Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hey Kid, Get Your Nose Outta That Book

This morning we woke before the chickens, brushed the manure and feathers from our boots and headed out early to the big city to get us some culture. The kid's art class is currently covering shadows and light. Since we're homeschoolers and can do what we please we arranged a visit to the Indianapolis Museum of Art where a docent could take us on a tour covering, you guessed it, shadows and light. Being able to see the works in person it always better than just reading about them in some boring textbook. Take this painting for instance. When viewed at a distance it looks like cows crossing a creek bed near a bridge on a serene early morning.

But if you are able to study it closely, you see that those cows are really just brown blobs with carefully placed highlights that make you believe they are cows. I think we would have missed that in a textbook.

Of course being able to break into small groups of parents and students helps foster discussion about the pieces. So much better than the massive bus load of children following behind a frazzled teacher who is too busy counting heads to talk scene you often see with public school field trips. If you take the time to listen, a lot of these teens have some incredible insight.

Which may be why I liked the new Class Pictures photography exhibit by Dawoud Bey so much. It included 40 photos of high school students of all cultures combined with their own written words. It was striking and you couldn't help but be drawn to the photos and stories. It's only here until Thanksgiving so if you're local, don't miss it.

But, even though the artsy fartsy types belittle him as "only" an illustrator, this hick from the stick's all time favorite at the museum will always be the Norman Rockwell. His work just speaks to me.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Thinking Out Loud

When I was a teenager I had a t-shirt that said "I'm surrounded by idiots." Lately, when I watch the news I wish I still had that t-shirt. Then there was another one that said "I must be a mushroom, they keep me in the dark and feed me bull___."

Hard to believe after all these years my teenage opinions of the world are still relevant.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Quicker Fixer Upper - Bathroom Edition

It all started out with a five dollar garage sale mirror...

You see, I didn't like the plain square mirror that hung above the bathroom sink when we bought this place two years ago. I wanted something more suited to an old house, but could never find a mirror I liked at a reasonable price. So the square mirror and ugly light fixture, that should have been recessed but for some reason wasn't, stayed. Along with the lovely 1980's faux gold fixtures that were loosing their faux gold.

Before we moved in:

Then came the five dollar mirror. There is a big festival around these parts Labor Day weekend. Pretty much the entire community is for sale, everyone has a garage sale. One of my neighbors had the perfect mirror and only wanted five bucks for it. So our seemingly quick and easy little fix up to the downstairs bathroom started. A new mirror, some paint and a few new fixtures, how hard could that be?

Whah, ha, ha, ho, ho, hee, hee...

When you own a 100 year old house, NOTHING is ever quick and easy. We know this, yet we always forget. The mystery of why the light fixture was never properly recessed was quickly revealed. The junction box was off center. Why on earth would the junction box be over there you ask? Because the previous owner forgot to consider the electrical when he was doing the plumbing. The vent pipe for the sink is smack dab in the center of that wall, exactly where you would want your light fixture to be.

Luckily I married the Engineer, and he was able to make it all better.


Then there were the fixtures inside the shower. There is a reason they don't sell the gold fixtures anymore. The peeling gold flakes were kinda gross and although we don't use this shower much, since this bathroom serves as our guest bath it only seemed reasonable that we should try to make it look better. That was our second major mistake. We were able to replace some of the parts, but those handles ain't coming off for nobody, no how. The only way we can get them replaced will be to knock a hole in the wall on the other side and replace the whole shebang. The other side is my laundry room and I'm not really up to tackle that project at the moment, so for now we still have gold handles.


Notice we did get a new light fixture up with no problems. There was even a bonus included in the box. Not only do we have green eggs and ham, we now have a cat in a hat! How fun is that?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Gettin' Our Money's Worth

When you homeschool, that does not mean you're sitting home all the time. In addition to weekly park days, an art class and monthly rollerskating events we do a lot of field trips with other homeschool families in the area. Yesterday's event was rock climbing. Hey, it's educational, that qualifies as PE. And you know, it just might come in handy with all the mountains we have here in Indiana. (Uh huh?)

I wasn't so sure about this event, when we signed up for it. Seemed kind of expensive and a long drive. But after two and a half hours of climbing he only stopped because he had blisters on hands. I think we got our money's worth.

I on the other hand was tickled pink when I collected eggs. Look at the one on the left. It's HUGE!

And to my delight I was correct in my estimation. It was a double yolker, our first! For someone who likes to dip her toast in the yolk, it's kind of like winning a scratch off lottery ticket. You never really expect it, but it's a nice surprise. Unfortunately we'll need A LOT more of these to get our money's worth.

There was an extra brown egg when I collected this morning. So that means at least one of the fat bottom girls has started to lay. We're getting there. Woo hoo!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Chicken in a Bread Pan

I've got eggs out the wazoo. Blue eggs. Green eggs. Brown eggs. You name it. I haven't made my Farm Fresh Eggs for Sale sign yet. Now what?

I know, I'll make Egg Bread for my chickens!!!
(Baking for them is sure to send Aunt Martha over the edge exclaiming "Girl, they're JUST chickens!")


10 eggs
1 cup corn meal
1 cup oatmeal
1/4 cup wheat germ

Mix ingredients well and add a little water if needed for a nice batter. Bake in a bread pan at 300 degrees for about an hour. Let it cool before serving to the chickens.

While it might gross certain 15 year old boys out that your feeding the chickens the eggs they just laid, it's actually good for them. In fact, for laying hens you can smash up the egg shell and throw those in as well. It helps make their egg shells harder.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Barnyard of the Stars

Johnny isn't the only big star that's decided to live here. Nope. We're running a full scale rehab, er I mean spa, facility right here in the backyard. Sean Penn, aka Bob, is one of our more notorious guests...

"Hey Bob, can we get a shot of you and the ladies?"

"Yeah, that's good Bob. Now how about one facing me?"

"Oh yeah, love it Bob. Maybe a little closer this time?"

"Uh, Bob? What are you doing? I can't see the ladies."

"BOB? What are ya doin'?"

"BAD Chicken, BAD Chicken!"

Thursday, September 18, 2008

What Doesn't Belong?

Remember Highlights magazine? They used to have them at my dentist's office when I was a kid. The magazine always had those cool puzzle pictures where you'd have to really look at it to find what didn't really belong in the picture.

I was reminded of those today as I passed through my family room a few times thinking, something just isn't quite right here. Finally, I spotted it in a corner. Can you?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Excuses, Excuses

I got lots of 'em. First, let me just remind you all that we school at home around these parts. And we're taking on ninth grade this year. It's a pretty heavy schedule. Not that I'm in there standing over his shoulder every minute of our school day, but he's using the computer for most of his work now. The computer where I used to edit my photos and leisurely write funny and witty comments about them. So my blogging has become sporadic and for that I must apologize.

Obviously he's not doing school work twenty-four seven though so what other lame excuse do I have? Well, we've been busy. Lots of errands and such. Pet vaccinations. Field trips. Throw in a quick family reunion and a home improvement project (the downstairs bathroom) and I've got my hands full. And then there is the whole "America's Got Talent" thing. I don't normally watch much television, especially reality shows. But for some strange reason I've gotten hooked on this one. It's taking up what little free time I had left during the week.

Just know I'm still out here, and I still have a story to tell. I'm just waiting in line for the computer to edit my photos.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Chickens in the Mist

How many black walnuts does it take to destroy the top netting of a chicken run? Five. Five and the remnants of a hurricane.

When we went out to tuck the chickens in tonight, a routine we like the call CBT (chicky bed time), the top net was flapping in the wind. There was only one hen, Sammie, pecking about in the run. But don't worry, they hadn't escaped or been blown away, Bob had surprisingly led them inside where they were high and dry and ready for bed. The engineer heroically repaired the run in the driving rain while my pansy butt ran back inside the house. Hey, it was cold...

So why, prey tell, if they're smart enough to get in out of a hurricane, are they not smart enough to go in during a hail storm? It must be one of nature's mysteries. But not as mysterious as the ever moving chicken feeder.

You see, The Pirates have this chicken feeder that is just a small metal dish that screws on to the top of a canning jar. You flip the jar upside down and out comes the food. It's as big as the chickens and certainly weighs more than they do. Each morning I fill it and set it in the same spot. Each evening it's mysteriously been moved to a new spot. Sometimes as much as five feet away from it's original position!

After spending countless hours attempting to capture and document their behavior just like Jane Goodall, the engineer's theory is that the chickens grab the vessel by the beak and drag it. Have I mentioned the engineer isn't from around here? He was born on a rock in the middle of the ocean. And it wasn't Key West where they actually have chickens. Perhaps his theory is flawed? I mean really, any farm girl can tell you chickens can levitate.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Fine Dining on the Farm

Something ate my car. Well, not the whole car, just the wires that make the air conditioning work. So my 200 mile round trip drive last Friday afternoon was none too pleasant at 93 degrees and the sun beating down on me. I asked a former automotive technician what the problem might be. He flipped all the switches just like I did, lifted the hood and then announced that the air conditioning wasn't working. *blink, blink* Then he said "I suppose you already knew that." I wonder if it was the sweat dripping from my chin, neck and down my back that gave it away? I thought I would get lucky and the sun would be on the passenger side of the vehicle on the way back, but alas it was late enough in the day that it just baked me like a chocolate chip cookie.

It was 93 again today when I stopped at my local service station and begged them to take a look at it. They quickly figured out that wires were cut. Or more accurately, chewed. Chewed by something small enough to reach into the tiny crevice where the wires are located. Where it's difficult for a human to reach. Where they have to pull apart the entire engine just to get to it. Which takes hours. Which costs money. Luckily we have an extended warranty. It has a $100 deductible. Some rodent just had a $100 snack on our dime. I don't believe I have ever had a $100 snack. Now when I say the varmints eat better than we do, I know it's the truth.