Sunday, February 27, 2011

R.I.P. Chicken Lou

In Memorium

Our dear matriarch of our flock, Louise, has passed away.  I am unsure of the exact cause of her demise.  All I can say is she was treasured during her time here with us and we hated to see her go.  She was one of our original three hens that we brought in a card board box from Fort Worth.  One of my kids' first pets, we named her after a spirited hen in the children's book, "Louise, The Adventures of a Chicken" by Kate DiCamillo & Harry Bliss.  She was a superb egg layer and was the Alpha Hen of our flock.  We will miss her dearly.

***I noticed about 12 days ago that Louise seemed weird, but you know...chickens are weird, and she's a chicken, so I went on about my business.  A few days later I noticed she wasn't jumping up onto the roost in the evening any more.  Instead, she was sleeping in the nesting boxes.  I thought maybe she had gone broody and that's why she was hanging out in the nest so much, but she was only spending her nights there, so that blew my theory.  During the day she would go outside with the other hens.  After a few days of this, I noticed she seemed sort of mis-shapen.  She really didn't even look like the same chicken any more, so I decided I better get a closer look.  I scared the poop out of her when I tried to catch her and it was like clear liquid.  I lifted her wings and realized that she was just a little bag of bones and feathers:(  I could have chopped wood with her breast bone.  I knew then that something was definitely WRONG.  I went to my computer and started trying to diagnose her while watching her out of my kitchen window.  When I saw her just standing there, not eating, not scratching around, eyes glazed over, neck swooning like she could fall over at any moment, I made a difficult decision.  She was suffering and probably had been for days without me knowing.  What if she had some illness that was contagious?  I could lose my entire flock.  It was time to put her out of her misery.

Roger was out of town, but luckily one of the guys who works for the ranch was near, so I asked him to take care of her.  I ordered the hit and didn't ask any questions.  I only requested that he dispose of her in a way that would not cause her to end up back on our front door step for the kids and I to find later.  Our dog, Maisy, brings any dead thing she finds around the ranch and puts it on the front door step, or in the front yard.  The other day, she brought a deer leg into the kitchen!  Now that's COUNTRY!  More country than I can handle!

In half an hour, I got word that the job had been done and I felt a huge wave of relief knowing that Louise was in a much better place and her suffering was over.  I contemplated whether or not to tell the kids how she died (they already knew she was sick). I decided to tell them exactly what happened.  Life sometimes presents difficult decisions and I think they need all the practice they can get with their parent's guidance before they have to someday make those decisions themselves.  That is one of the beautiful things about growing up on a farm and ranch.  There are lots of opportunities to learn life's lessons!  We said a little prayer for Chicken Louise that night and imagined her in Heaven laying golden eggs for God.  The kids were understanding and peaceful throughout the whole experience.

Louise taught us many lessons in her short time with us.  She taught us that it IS possible to haul a chicken in a cardboard box five hours across the state and she'll even lay an egg for you on the way!  She taught us about the social hierarchy of chickens and what happens when another hen gets out of line.  She introduced us to the joy and satisfaction of having your own fresh eggs that, by God's perfect design, are the most complete and nutritious single-item meal you can consume.  And those same eggs, if fertilized, can become fuzzy yellow chicks in 21 days time.  Amazing!  She taught us about the responsibility of owning a pet or farm animal and the joy of watching a chicken just being a chicken.  They are truly entertaining little creatures!  And finally, but most importantly, she taught us about the circle of life and the tough decisions we may encounter along the way.

Rest in peace, sweet Louise.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Enter at Your Own Risk

My friend Lor! called me up out of the blue the other day to say, "You know how every once in a while you watch a movie that just really moves you?  That just happened to me!"  She had just seen the movie "Australia" for the first time and it really spoke to her...changed her...and she was excited about it.  

That's exactly how I feel lately.  Excited. Not specifically about a movie, a book, or anything else that tangible.  Just excited.  I'm excited about life and all that it is now and what is still to come.  Mostly I am excited to be given the chance every day to live it!  The other evening I was standing outside my wide open front door (which is just how I like it) and noticing the scene.  For that moment, time stopped in my head and I took a mental snapshot and began listing everything I loved about that little tiny speck of a moment in my day.  It looked like this:

car full of groceries behind me, chickens doing their thing all over the yard and on the front door step- scratch, scratch, look- scratch, scratch, look- POOP- scratch, scratch, look (oh, to be a chicken!) dog in pen barking at chickens, the aftermath of a two year old playing all over the house all morning which means a lot of obstacles in my path on the way to the five year old who is sitting on the toilet yelling, "Mommie, I'm DONE!!!", my arms full of bags, mail, backpack, purse, while two year old is begging, "Mommie, hold me" and teenage boys are texting, "What's for dinner?" and "What time will it be ready?"

And my list of what I loved about that moment:

See above.

It's life, and it's messy, and I LOVE it!

Outside Lisa

Monday, February 21, 2011

My Sweet Valentines

Valentine's Day 2011 has come and gone, but just now when I uploaded my pics from my IPhone, I decided I had to share some photos of my little darlings and all the beautiful reds and pinks of one of the most endearing days of the year.  I hope you had a wonderful day and didn't get all hung up on trying to give (or receive) the "perfect" gift, or even worse, set your expectations for the day so high that Cupid himself couldn't have pleased you.  To me Valentine's Day is simply a day for loving harder and louder than usual. A day to remind, reassure, and acknowledge the love we give and receive every other day of the year.

We are short on Valentine's Day decorations, so we decided to make some.  By cutting strips of scrapbook paper and stapling the strips together in loops, we were able to make a chain to drape over the mantel.  So fun and easy!

The kids and I made cookies and decorated them with icing and sprinkles.  They were so cute and we had a ball making them together.  I really enjoyed watching all of the kiddos in Harrison's class gobble them up!  The work it takes to make something from scratch and then share it with friends is an act of true love.  

My number one Valentine.  My husband.  My best friend.  

Nighty, night...
Outside Lisa

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Resolution SEVEN: Declutter

I wanted to have this "Resolutions List" thing wrapped up by January 31st, and it almost happened, but then life happened and I got tired and went to bed that night instead of writing.  So here we are on February 1st (Feb 2nd when you're reading this) and here I am contemplating number EIGHT!

SEVEN:  Declutter, snuck up on me, but is something I need to do so badly I just couldn't leave it off the list.  This is the year, and it might take every bit of this year to accomplish it, but I think this is finally the year to tackle my STUFF!  And, oh baby, this is a big one for this girl.  You see...I have a LOT of stuff and in my mind it all has the potential to be needed and called upon at some point so, it is therefore not junk, but stuff.  Or, more Supplies for what?  Supplies for being me!

In a recent post I described how I feel like I have this fog in my mind and I really think that getting rid of some of the excess stuff in my life will help clear that fog and free my mind from the burden I feel just knowing the stuff is there.

My friend Helen in England inspired this resolution with her recent series of posts called The Sling.  She, too, was feeling the need to purge some of the clutter in her space.  I really like how she chose something different to go through every day.  This method of breaking things down works for me because looking at my "supplies" as a whole is terribly daunting.

I have decided to make a list of all the different categories I want to sort through and then get started in my house.  Once I get the house done I'll work my way to the barn full of boxes that haven't even been unpacked since we moved here this Summer...yikes!  I may need a different method for tackling that!

So here are my categories:
Shoes, hats, jewelry, purses/bags, clothes, books, magazines, kitchen utensils, and most importantly...TOYS!  (Toys are seriously taking over our house.)

Now I just have to decide what I'm going to do with all of the stuff once I get it all gathered up.  Any ideas?