Friday, October 25, 2013

starting my career as the town crazy lazy

We don't have trees in our yard, at least not big ones that leaves piles of leaves all over the place.  So, it's nice that we don't have to rake or anything, but, the best insulation for the floor of my chicken coop is dead leaves.  Last year I swiped some from the curb at some random person's house.  This year, I decided to go a little bit mainstream and not actually steal leaves from residential neighborhoods.  So, I went to the town compost pile and swiped my leaves from there.  I had concerns that someone was going to report that a crazy lady was taking leaves from the compost bin, so I called the town clerk lady to make sure that I wouldn't get arrested or something.  

Last night, Angel #4 had her belated birthday celebration. She's been wanting to have a sleepover and take her friends to one of the haunted houses, but with Friday nights being full of football and Saturday night sleepovers not done here, it was getting difficult to plan something.  Finally, we've had 2 days off of school, so they all came over Thursday afternoon, watched a scary movie to get them in the mood, then I took the girls to the haunted house.  Things got off a little rockily when she accidentally ordered the wrong scary movie.  She thought she was ordering the later version of My Bloody Valentine, but instead ended up with the original 1981 version.  Those movies may have been scary then, but 30+ years later, no one could get past the weird clothes and funny they added their own commentary, making it more of a comedy than a slasher flick.  Things got better once they got to Insanity, the name of the haunted house.  I waited for them in the car, since I wasn't real interested in doing the haunted house thing and didn't see the point in buying another $14 ticket if I didn't have to.  It sounded like they had a wonderfully scary time, but we needed to go out for ice cream afterwards to sooth their throats, which were raw from all the screaming they did.

Tonight is the first football playoff game.  It's over an hour away, so hubs and I are staying home where it's warm and let the kids go freeze their butts off instead.  I hope they do well, though Angel #4 is ready for the season to be over, it's getting colder and colder out and she's tired of freezing to death during practices.  Of course, she could dress warmer, but she's a teenager and it's better to look cool and freeze than to dress sensibly.  My theory is that eventually, around 20 years old, the stupid gets frozen out of them and they start dressing for the weather.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

it's bloody, messy....and done!

We were only going to do a few chickens yesterday, but the weather was decent and days of decent temperatures ahead are very few, so the great chicken massacre of 2013 commenced.  After picking and plucking on the first chicken forever, we realized that we were going to be butchering forever at that pace, so we decided to just skin the suckers and get it over with.  Once we started doing that, things really got rolling.  Angel #4 tried really hard to book her day with away from home tasks, she volunteered at a brat fry, but her timing sucked and she got home about half an hour before we started chopping heads, so she got put on the chicken assembly line along with me, hubs and WE.  Between the 4 of us, we butchered up 24 chickens, the whole broiler flock. I'm so happy that chore is done with, though it was completely exhausting.  We started around 1:30pm and I was finally scrubbing chicken gore off the kitchen floor around 8:30.  We don't eat the heart, liver and gizzards, but our friend who is paying us for half the chickens, does, so I had to clean that stuff up as well.  Once clean, I put them on cookie sheets and individually froze them that way so I could just bag the whole mess up in one bag.  WE didn't think it was hilarious that I sang Jar of Hearts as I was carrying a bowl of chicken hearts around the kitchen.  I swear, teenagers have absolutely NO sense of humor.

It's nice to have one more pre-winter project over with.  Hubs sealed up the basement doors and windows today, so that's done as well.  I've just got Brussels sprouts to get out of the garden yet and that'll be cleaned out.  I've still got to clean out the chicken coops, both the newly emptied one and the one where the layer hens live, and put that mess out on the garden so it's all nice and composted for next spring.  The corn was pretty sickly looking this year, a good dose of chicken crap will do wonders for it next year.  Slowly, we're getting ready for old man winter.  It would have been nice to have a garage to park my van in this winter, but that didn't happen.  We've still got a few chunks of the blown away garage lying in the back yard in the burn pile.  There just isn't enough time or money to get everything done before the snow flies.  Sometimes I wonder why we moved away from Hawaii.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

a wet end to the regular season

Last night was cold, rainy and parent's night for the football team, so I couldn't get out of going  to the game.  And once I'm there, holding my team parent orange carnation, sitting all cold and wet in the stands, it doesn't pay to leave until the game is over.  Especially when out team dominated the game with a final score of 40-0.  Despite freezing in the bleachers, it's kind of fun watching wet sloppy games because stuff happens that isn't the norm, like the huge pile of guys on the 10 yard line, struggling for the ball, only to see the object of their attention pop up into the air right from the middle of the pile of boys (we recovered).  Along with it being parent's night, it's also a night for honoring the senior football players and managers.  As a special surprise, Sarah, the senior girl who's been managing the team since her freshman year, suited up for the 2nd half of the game.  Sarah's step-dad is one of the coaches and didn't know any of this was going to happen until she ran out on the field in uniform with the rest of the guys after the half.  She got to go out and make a field goal attempt, she didn't get it, but was thrilled to finally get the chance to be on the other side of the water bottles for a change.  Now Angel #4 can't wait for her senior year so she gets her chance out on the field.

WE ran his last cross-county race Thursday night at the conference meet.  He's not much of a distance runner, his gift is sprinting, so his xc times aren't that great. In fact, he didn't qualify to run varsity on Thursday, but one of the Freshman boys, who DID qualify, told the coach that he met all his goals for xc for the year and he wanted to give up his spot on the varsity team so WE could run, because it was only right that as a senior, he should run varsity at his last race.  Is that awesome or what?  The whole xc team is like that, a really close, good group of kids.  Their coach aka "Coach Dad" is an upright, Godly man who really loves the kids and the kids love him right back.  This is his second year coaching cross and he's doubled the number of kids in the program in that time and I can easily see it getting even bigger as the xc kids keep bragging up their coach and their sport to the other kids in school.  Even Angel #4 said she'd love to be on cross country, if only there wasn't so much running. :p  There's a lot of inner-sport friction on the girls volley ball team (that's why #4 didn't go out for vb this year in the first place) and I know there are some girls considering switching sports to get out of the middle of the drama.  Players may make the team, but I think it's the attitude of the coach that makes the players.

This afternoon we're planning on holding a chicken massacre.  I'm sure that's going to be a good time.  Ideally, I'd like to butcher up the whole flock of broilers, they're all ready for it (size wise - mentally, I think they'd prefer to stick around awhile), but we don't have an automatic chicken plucker this year like we did last, and I really don't think I'm up to manually pulling feathers on 24 chickens in one day.  It was exhausting enough doing 50 last year when we had a plucker doing the hard part for us.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

an update on life

I was reminded by hubs that there's no way he'll be able to keep track of what's going on in our life if I don't start posting here.  I've been here a couple of times, but honestly couldn't think of anything earth shattering to share with you.

Funny Voice Friday was a success in the lunch room last week.  The kids and I have come up with a new one now and next on the agenda is Robot Voice Wednesday.  There was some confusion and some kids thought it was Sing Along Thursday, so there was a little unauthorized singing going on.  It's been requested that I put what day we're going to have right on the school menu calendar so they can keep track.  But, since I only do this with the 3rd, 4th & 5th graders, I think that would cause a little confusion among the rest of the school district.

Angel #4 was asked to sing the National Anthem at the girls volleyball game this week.  She'd never had to do that before and said she would under the condition that she did it with someone else.  A girl named Lexi said she'd do it with her.  We brought #4 to the game and Lexi met us as the door and the two girls ran off.  About 15 minutes later, it was time to get things started.  Hubs and I were in the stands and saw #4 by the microphone, standing along, looking around anxiously.  Lexi had disappeared and a VERY nervous #4 ended up singing a solo.  She started out a little shaky, but within a couple of lines, she got in the swing of things and did a beautiful job....sadly, she didn't think so and right after she was done, she boogied out of the gym and went outside crying.  Because she was outside, she didn't see the tons of people who came up to us an said they didn't realize she had such a wonderful voice and what a great job she did.  Even WE came over an told us what a great job he thought his sister did.  Eventually she came back inside and hopefully, now that she's had to do the solo trial by fire, she'll have more confidence next time she's asked to sing.  It's a small school and there are a lot of sports events that need the anthem sung, so I'm sure she'll have more than enough chances to wow everyone with her voice in the next 4 years of high school.

It's also #4's birthday today.  My little, youngest baby is 15 years old today.  To me, a kid doesn't seem like a real teenager until they hit 15.  13 & 14 are only a warm-up toward the real thing.  We didn't do anything special today, we just went and picked up a cake at Cravings, our favorite bakery/cafe and got some lunch there.  Next weekend she wants to go with a couple of her friends to Splatterhaus, a haunted house to get the crap scared out of them.  Friday night is the last regular season football game as well as it being parent's night.  Since #4 is a team manager, we've got to be there to get our orange carnation along with all the football players parents.  Maybe after the game I'll buzz the kids over there to get it all over with.  We've had beautiful weather for football games so far this year, the only crappy night being an away game, so I got away with not having to go.  I'm strictly a fair-weather football fan.  Our team clinched a spot in the playoffs, so who know just how long football season may end up being.  Not that it matters too much to me.  If I've got to drive further than a half hour or the temps are too low or it's raining, the Panthers are just going to have to play without me.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

It's hard to be evil

Last year, when I was the lunch lady goddess, ruler of all I surveyed, a particularly favorite form of kid torture I implemented was "Sing-Along Thursdays", where I had the kids sing their lunch numbers to me instead of simply saying them.  The biggest of Sing-Along Thursdays was the very last day of school.  I'd kind of forgotten about them over the summer until a couple days ago, when one of the 5th graders asked if we could have another Sing Along Thursday.  I guess the kids were actually enjoying the torture I was meting out.  My evilness was foiled again!  So, today was the first Sing Along Thursday of the school year.  I'll probably unofficially schedule them about once a month, just to keep the hungry little critters on their toes.  But not all the kids sang.  Some refuse to participate, so, of course I give them a hard time.  I even initiate a little competition, telling the 4th graders that the 5th graders do a much better job or that the boys sing better than the girls.  Some kids, instead of singing, just sort of used weird voices and I said, this is Sing Along Thursday, not Funny Voice Friday....which gave me an idea and a new and improved method of torture.  Next week Friday is our first official Funny Voice Friday!  I warned the kids and told them they'd better start practicing now.

Today was our only home cross country meet of the year, so of course, I had to go.  To get the most out of a XC meet, the bystanders have to do a bit of running around themselves.  We cheer at one spot, then cut across to another spot so we can cheer the kids on some more,  Then we boogie on down toward the finish line to do a final bit of encouragement to help the kids get over the line.  One of our freshman girls is an exceptional runner and she broke the school girls XC record while a 2nd freshman girl managed to get on the record board at #7.  They were both pretty darn excited.  The boys team is doing well also, though not as good as the girls.  As WE ran by, I shouted to him that he had to run hard or run home...I think he wasted precious running energy to roll his eyes at me.  He ran good...not great, but good. No PR's (personal record) for him this week, but he'd just PR'd last week, so I guess I'll have to cut him a little slack.

On a more sobering note, I'm having a stinking hard time keeping chickens alive lately.  My layer chickens (aka, The Ladies) are doing fine, but the meat birds (aka The Kids) are dropping like flies.  The meat birds are a pain in the butt to raise and they're pretty touchy, health-wise, and I've decided next year to raise a slower growing, but less fragile breed of chicken.  As it is, I've been losing a bird just about every other day for the last week or so.  It's gotten so bad I've got a designated 'dead chicken bucket' in the barn that I use to keep the corpses until I have a chance to get rid of them.  I feel like a Haitian voodoo priestess, dumping dead chickens all over the place like I'm putting some kind of curse on somebody.  We started out with 40 chicks on Aug 6 and at the moment, we've got only 28 left.  At this rate, I don't know if we'll have any chickens survive long enough for us to kill them.  It's a hard knock life for chickens.