Wyalusing Panorama

Wyalusing is a state park where the Wisconsin River joins the Mississippi. We took Wonder Niece there, because it is something worth seeing. I snapped this picture:

Click on it for full panoramic extravaganza.


I took this photo a month ago on Pike's Peak. It was the day after the race. I didn't notice until today that they spelled "Officials" wrong on the road.

Photographs for August

This is a photo challenge I'm going to do for August:

Are there any other bloggers who would want to do it with me? It would be fun to compare our photos.

Light Reading

My daughter needs this book. She has been talking for weeks about how she's going to live in a hole in the ground in the woods.

Knock Loudly, I'm Home

A nod to Theresa of the old Frog Blog.

Terrible Ideas are Fun

Little Z, Wonder Niece and I were summoned to the post office this morning to pick up fifty baby roosters. The roosters' fate is meant to be for the dinner plate.
A few hours after we had them settled in, I mused that, if we were to keep them all and not actually eat them, we would have quite a mess of roosters on our hands.

"But you could have them fight each other and sell tickets!" said the Wonder Niece.

Which, I couldn't help but point out, would make us quite the unique operation:


Wonder Niece to the Rescue!

The chickens have gotten sick lately. Some of them were so sick, they died! Four dead, so far. Then I noticed something terribly disgusting- worms in the poop!

No photo. I gagged.

I got ahold of our state poultry expert (Seriously. I asked him his job title three times!) and he seemed to think that it was a fairly fixable and common problem. He recommended a de-wormer. But then it gets a little tricky, because you can't eat the eggs of a chicken until the dewormer is through its system. The FDA doesn't test dewormers for laying hens, mostly because factory farmed chickens don't get worms, because they eat off of conveyor belts. BLAAHAHAHAHA! Yuck!

So, I tentatively ordered the dewormer on line, and it should be here tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I felt like I ought to do something NOW to stop the chickens from dropping dead!

And also, my fifteen year old niece flew in from California to visit. And she says, all casual like,

"Oh, worms? Yeah, I did this report on Scotland, and this herb called Mugwort will get rid of worms."

It took me awhile to figure out the connection with Scotland, but I'll get to that later. I looked it up on the internet, and it took some serious searching, but yeah, Mugwort does get rid of worms.

We consulted the local hippy friends at the health food co-op, and they didn't have any Mugwort, but they gave me the number of Community Pharmacy in Madison, which is the solar nexus and epicenter of all good hippie vibes, and of course they had some!

Little Z and Wonder Niece and I then went on a fantastical road trip to the Mythical (and somewhat real) Community Pharmacy, which advertised sexual healing on its banner out front. Once inside, we found the appropriate counter: the one with the shelves of large glass jars behind it. I love large glass jars full of fancy herbs.

A pretty girl with a petite mustache helped us. She inquired as to what the Mugwort was for, and when I said it was for deworming chickens, she said,

"Far out."

This is what it looked like:

I put some in the chickens' food, which was eaten pretty quickly by some of the chickens, and then I brewed it into a tea and filled their waterer with it. It smelled pleasant. I might make some for myself later.

Then, Wonder Niece showed me her report on Scotland, which turned out to be a report on Scottish food. She had written that Caraway seeds, "keep away thieves and vandals."

"How do they do that?" I asked, suddenly much interested in keeping away thieves and vandals, myself.

"It's used in witchcraft," she explained.


Then I read on, and sure enough, she had written that Mugwort was used to treat worms. I found the report on Scottish food to be quite informative, although it did place a little more emphasis on seasonings and witchcraft than what I would consider to be necessary. (I've been to Scotland. I must have gone to the wrong places.) It had some true entertainment value, though, for sure. She included some Wiccan verses.

"What did you get on this?" I asked her.


"Oh. That's about right."

If the Mugwort doesn't work for our chickens, the report contained some incantations which might also be helpful. Or I might also try that antibiotic that the state poultry expert recommended. Or maybe just the Wiccan chanting. Either or.

All joking aside, I'm really glad for Wonder Niece being here to make that helpful suggestion. Today was the first day in four that no chickens died.

My Weekend: Cowboys, Ducks, and Lucy the Mexican Girl

The backs of cowboys taking me on a wagon ride (not just me, but, you know, us):

Mama duck leading babies to water at the zoo:

Lucy is an art piece that Mary gave us for taking her old chickens. We ate the chickens, so I didn't consider it any huge favour to take them, but Mary was so happy that we took them off of her hands that she gave us our pick of her current art stock. I liked this one best because it has a Mexican theme, and also in part because of the heart playing card, with my lucky number: 27. I placed Lucy in our mud room, flanked by two handsome and also sort of freaky owls. This probably isn't her permanent home. I might build her a knick knack shelf- a little shrine. One of those corner deals.

In the meantime, she can scare off Jehovah's Witnesses and small children (if the giant whiz-bang chicken plucker in the driveway doesn't frighten them away, first).

Wiz Bang: Completed!

I'm hoping BAH will help me to carry it outside before I use it! I don't think I want to send chicken feathers and lots of water flying all over the house. At least, not at this point in my life.

DIY Train

This is what happens when you don't buy your child the toy she wants (at least, if she's anything like my child).

She wants the Dinosaur Train set, and I keep telling her to wait for her birthday. This is the dinosaur train.

So, that was kind of fun, except that she spilled a huge glob of paint on the rug, and I had to take out a section and wash it before it dried. Bodkay was watching, and kindly jumped in as a place holder during the cleaning process. Always helpful.


I'm making a chicken plucking machine.

I didn't invent it. I'm following the instructions in this book:

Note the title says that ANYONE can build a chicken plucker. To me, this seems a highly optimistic title. My guess would be that about one percent of Americans could build this thing. I'm just praying to the gods of well cleaned chickens that I am one of the one percent.

"Whiz-Bang" is what the author calls this chicken plucking machine. I'm pretty sure "Whiz-Bang" refers to how quickly it plucks a chicken, and "Whiz-Bang" definitely does not refer to how quickly you can build the thing.

Still, it's nice to have something productive to do indoors on these hot summer days.

The Eyes of the Sun

I promised readers a few weeks ago that I would review Christina McMullan's The Eyes of the Sun.
I finished it, a few days ago. I realized several things about The Eyes of the Sun:

1. It didn't suck. (Phew!)
2. I was really annoyed when I had to stop reading it while I was in Colorado (because my computer stopped working).
3 I read the whole thing in tiny print on my computer, because I didn't know how to make it big.
4. I didn't want to look at Facebook while I was reading it, even though it was on my Facebook computer and I'm a little ashamed to say I'm totally addicted to Facebook.
5. While I thought I didn't like the romance part, I totally liked the romance part. Especially the ending.

So, basically, it was a pain in the butt to read it on my computer, but totally worth doing.

The Eyes of the Sun
is a fictional account of an agency that kills evil vampires who are trying to rule the world. (I thought I would include the word "fictional" in case, you know, you thought it was real.) Full disclosure: vampire novels are not my thing, but I still enjoyed this book. The vampires in it are not exactly "normal" vampires. McMullen adds some modern twists to the old vampire mythology.

The main character is named Lucy. Lucy is a strong woman who is hesitant to use violence to solve problems, although she's good at it. Lucy (unwillingly) joins a secret agency to destroy vampires and quickly show that she is (reluctantly) more effective than anyone else there. There are two offices to the agency: one in New Orleans, and one in Paris, France. The setting may seem like a cliche, but I think it works, since many of the other cliches about vampires are absent from this story.

The problem with France (and I mean real life France, because fiction is where I learn my facts about the world), is that the evil vampires basically control the government there, but in secret. They look really pale, too, and dress in all black sometimes, which totally explains all of those people in Paris!

The story in many ways follows Jospeh Campbell's Hero's Journey motif, with the unwitting hero who finds herself in an entirely new world, where supernatural powers are the norm, and she discovers she is more of a person than she formerly believed herself to be.

I really enjoyed The Eyes of the Sun, and I am looking forward to reading the sequel, Bluebeard's Children, and the the prequel, Dissonant.

Revisiting Old Favourites

Lately I've been re-reading Strunk and White's The Elements of Style, which is, as you know, the best book every written about writing.

This part is one of my favourites:

"Flammable. An oddity, chiefly useful in saving lives. The common word meaning 'combustible' is inflammable. But some people are thrown off by the in- and think inflammable means "not combustible." For this reason, trucks carrying gasoline or explosives are now marked FLAMMABLE. Unless you are operating such a truck and hence are concerned the the safety of children and illiterates, use inflammable."

The reasons I like this:

1. It's witty.
2. I will now examine trucks closely.
3. Because it makes me contemplate just how much (a lot) of my life has been spent concerning myself with the safety of children and illiterates.

Bees in Heat

When bees get hot, they go outside and flap their wings to cool off.

It's a little disconcerting when you walk by the hive, until you remember it's completely normal. They're loud.

The bees we caught a couple of weeks ago are doing well, too:

They weren't as hot, I guess.

For Oroboros...

... my most frequent commenter whom I've never met:

They do this when they are overheated sometimes, or so I have read.

Berry Hunting

View from the forest while picking berries:

Little Z and I got too hot and bug eaten to pick many, but BAH picked a lot:

Dinner was unusual: Steak and raspberries. Little Z ate her first steak today.

A good day.

Overheard at the Grocery Store

"It was terrible... like a massacre... A & W threw out ketchup packets during the parade, instead of candy? Exploded all over the street! The entire town of Verona looks as though it's drenched in blood!"

I did an internet search for a picture, but sadly did not find one.

Ask, and the Internet Provides

I checked Craigslist last night and found some laying hens for sale, already laying, for $2 each, and only eight miles away from home. The guy didn't know what type of hens they were, but
when we got there, we discovered that they were some of our favourites: Transylvanian Naked Necks, Brahmas, and several others. We got seventeen new hens, and one rooster. The rooster was free. Little Z insisted on carrying in each one to her new coop. We'll keep them inside for a few days, until they start thinking of their new place as home, and then we'll let them out.

When we went out there, we got completely lost. The street didn't have a street sign. The numbers on the houses didn't seem to be chronological. The Google Navigator thought the house was in a completely different place than it was. And, the mailbox number was obstructed by a piece of wood. I was shocked by the disorganized nature of the area. This is Wisconsin, land of punctuality, cleanliness, and industrial drinkers. I mean, really!

We also had a funny experience in *Colorado lately, when we were trying to go to Seven Falls, and the Google Navigator led us to the top of Seven Falls. The top is not the place where people are supposed to go. The top is a slippery dirt road on a terrifying cliff face! Not a tourist attraction. The bottom of Seven Falls, however, is a tame little tourist area with an elevator and chipmunks that walk right up to you to be fed.

Google Navigator is fantastic for populated areas, but sometimes bad for the countryside.

* I kind of slipped off to Colorado for a bit last week, with tepid permission from my doctor. I know. I've been keeping secrets from you. I'm sorry.

The Life Pastoral: Duck Edition

When I went outside this morning, five of the ducks (all of them Mallards) were outside of the electric fence. I opened up part of the fence, and instead of everyone else going out, the five who had escaped went back in. Home bodies, I guess.

They stayed inside their fence with the gate open until about five PM this evening. They timidly ventured forth. Little Z said,

"One of them looked me in the eye. I think he wanted to kiss me!"

I soon discovered that their favourite food is dandylions! I should have let them out a long time ago. Now I am about to go out and see if they decided to go back home for the night, so I can protect them with the electric fence. I hope so!

Update: The ducks went home for the night. Good ducks.

Eggs and Chickens

As many eggs as I have, I always have more people who want eggs, but I don't have enough for them. Maybe I need more chickens?

I need some good layers. I'm thinking maybe I could do the "Production Pack" from Meyer Hatchery.
"Five eggs a week" sounds like quite the deal! And only $2 each if you buy fifty, which I might. But, I don't know those breads. I am pretty partial to my Transylvanian Naked Necks, but I don't see them for sale any more.

The original mix was just the rare breed assortment, which worked out quite well, but they are a bit more pricey at $2.23 each, and there is no guarantee of five eggs a week. Still, I enjoy preserving the rare breeds, and they have so much character! Also, my customers seem to like the way all of the eggs look different from each other. They taste a bit different, too, but the difference is so slight; you have to have a refined palate to really notice.

I don't know. I should really decide on a favourite chicken, and just go with that breed, but they are all so great!
Wyandottes are a good, hearty breed, but don't seem to be available right now.

My favourites of all time, as far as personality and production go, are the German Spitzhauben. These ladies lay an egg every day, sometimes two in one day! They are our only white egg layers, so we know. They are very small chickens, and so they don't eat much and are cheap to keep. And they are so cute! And gentle. The only problem is that they are a little bit too adventurous for our free range habitat. We started out with five of them, and slowly, they kept wandering off into the tall grass and never coming back. Now, we only have two. These two are the best, though. They make it almost seem worth while to get more German Spitzhauben. They aren't available right now, though, so I guess that decides it for me!

At least, it decides for me against them. But other than that, I don't know which chickens to get!

Has anyone out there in the Internet Tubes had a good experience with a certain breed?

Taking Care of Number One

Going to the potty by yourself in a restaurant is a big deal when you are five and a half. Or, so it seems.

We went out today, and Little Z said,

"I have to go potty! Can I go by myself?"


"Where is it?"

"It's over there. The one with the lady in the dress and the sign that says, 'Women'."

"Okay," she said to BAH. "Give me the thumbs up if I'm going the right way!"

She started going in the right direction. Tentatively, she looked back at her parents, who both gave her the thumbs up and smiles of reassurance. We saw her enter the bathroom.

A few minutes later, she reappeared, and ran back to the table. She looked a bit concerned.

"Everything go okay?" I asked.


"Did you wash your hands?"


"You seem worried or something."

Her eyeballs sort of looked up at the ceiling for a second.

"It's just, well... I forgot to go pee after I went poop. Can I go back to the bathroom?"


Clearly, children are different from adults.


Deer in the City

Taking out the cell phone to take a picture of a deer walking across the street in town, I sort of lost the moment of communing with the deer walking down the street. Most of the time, I don't take pictures of wildlife.

Going to my house always reminds me of playing Super Mario Cart. When you play the video game, all of this crazy stuff flies out into your way while you're trying to drive a car. When I get close to home going one direction, generally several squirrels run in front of me and then the same wild turkey generally comes out from the same spot. From the other end of the road, there is some sort of small furry woodland creature- a muscrat, perhaps, or a whistle pig- and it ventures into the road for a second and then crawls back into its hole. Then, I round the bend and usually see three deer or so. They aren't above jumping in front of me.

Such things I expect in the country, but this deer in the picture was living on the wild side.

Happy Birthday, AmeriKanerna!

This is a band called Unlocking the Truth, consisting of three sixth graders who have known each other from daycare days, playing the most awesomest hard core metal style ever!!!! Love it.

Who doesn't catch the occasional swarm?

Another part of the doctor visit was him checking my skin for weird orbs which might indicate Lyme's Disease. There were of course a bunch of weird marks on my legs from catching that swarm of bees about five days before.

"Oh, those are just bee stings. Don't mind those."

"Really? How do you know?"

"Well, I remember, because I was catching a swarm of bees."

"You were-- wait, what?"

"Catching a swarm of bees. And I got stung. Here, here, and here. I remember."

"Say that again? How do you catch a swarm of bees?"

I was too tired to explain, so I let the five year old apprentice do it:

"First, you smoke them, like this-" and she showed with her hands--"and then you spray them like this--" more hand motions, "and then you get them in the box and you make them stay, and ..."

Another doctor walked in, and my doctor made Little Z explain all over again about the bees to the second doctor, who was ostensibly there to look at my butt. I felt like we were getting a little bit sidetracked, and what's more, the other doctor clearly thought we were insane.

Then they just started inviting more people in to look at my backside and poke me with sharp thneeds. Which is what everyone, everyone, everyone needs. A thneed, in this context, is a long pin with a hollow tip that gouges out pieces of your flesh. You see? Just what everyone needs.

Here's an unrelated photo of a 100+ year old merry-go-round:

Another Close Brush with Death

Have you looked at your naked butt today?

I do not, typically, take off all of my clothes and look in the mirror at my old gluteus maximus. Last week, however, this became a problem.

You might recall that I had a fever and a terrible, piercing headache. Also, my neck hurt. I was only vaguely aware that I had a pain in my butt. I realized that I had a bug bite there, so I didn't worry about it.

After I could barely get up for fifteen minutes at a time, though, I scheduled a doctor's appointment. I fully expected him to say, "Drink a lot of water. You have the flu."

But, no. It was more like,

"That bite in your butt looks really bad... Did you say your neck hurts? No, you didn't say your neck hurts... did you? Oh, that's bad."

He called in a colleague to look at my butt with him. They both agreed it looked terrible.

"Wow. That looks painful," she said.

I tried to quip a little joke. I said,

"Doctor, am I going to live?"

Amazingly, he hesitated and said,

"Well, yes, but you are very sick, and you need to do exactly what I say..."

Because, as it turns out, there was this massive infection in my body that was just about to hit my brain and kill me. It's a good thing I went to the doctor about that.

I nearly fainted when he told me about the brain thing. He seemed strangely pleased to have made me nearly faint.

There were many unpleasant things, more doctor visits, terrible long shots, there were specimens taken for testing (that hurt!) and now I'm taking eleven pills a day, spread out throughout the day to combat whatever the evilness is. They still don't really know what bit me, but I am feeling better.

When I got home from the doctor, I took a look at what they were talking about (the bite on my butt) and it looked painful. It was painful to look at. They actually had offered me heavy duty painkillers for it, and I turned them down. What was I thinking?

I apologize for the delay in posting. It isn't that I have felt so terribly ill (just that one spell of believing that I was crying blood, in spite of the fact that I definitely was not crying blood, but clearly it was the fever to blame) no, I haven't felt terribly ill, I just had some internet issues.