A day in my life

A friend of mine recently said that reading my blog makes her tired because of all the things I do. So today, I think I’ll give her a good reason to go to bed early! Here is what today is like in my life…

When I got up this morning, my dear husband had already fed the pets – the dog and three cats that live indoors with us. Supremely sweet of him, and it left only the outdoor livestock for me to handle. So I dressed in shorts and a t-shirt, slipped on my grubby chore shoes, and went outside. Filled up the feed container for the chickens, and turned on the hose.

First up was to open up the chicken coop for the day, so the chickens can use their run. I enter the run and immediately see something weird. I don’t know what *it* is, but *it* is near the far side of the run, so I go look. Great (with sarcasm), it’s the opossum. Haven’t seen him in a couple months. He’s small, I don’t think he’s a danger to my chickens when they’re awake, and he’s locked out of their coop at night. But he’s playing dead, and I’m not going to let my chickens loose on purpose when he’s around, so I leave the chicken run to handle the rabbits instead, hoping that’s far enough away that he’ll get up and leave while I’m gone.

I check on all the rabbits, and everyone is fine. So I fill up water dishes, remove spider webs, and water the grass around the hutches. I don’t mind spiders near the rabbits, but I do object to the dry and hollow flies and other pests they drop around when they’re finished with them – just don’t think having hundreds of those in the hutches is a good idea. So the spiders need to make their webs elsewhere. I water the grass around the hutches because green grass keeps the area cool, and dry baked ground does not. I finish all that and go back to the chicken run.

Opossum on pitchfork
The opossum, laying on the pitchfork.
Is it dead, or just “playing possum”?

The opossum is still laying there. OK, according to Wikipedia, if it is “playing possum” the eyes will be closed at least partially – but they’re not. It also says that if it is “playing possum” it will be drooling/foaming at the mouth – but it isn’t. No smell either, and they usually excrete a smell when playing possum that makes a would-be predator think they’re already in the process of decaying. Hmmm. I think it’s an ACTUALLY dead opossum! So I use a pitchfork to pick it up (it’s stiff, but that is no indication of truly dead vs playing possum) and take it to the compost heap. Threw some compost over top of it to keep any smell away from the neighborhood stray cats. If it’s dead, it’ll stay there. If it’s not there tonight then I was taken in by a REALLY good player of “playing possum”!

Back to the chickens. Open up their coop, throw their food around the ground of the run to encourage scratching and pecking behaviors. Check coop for eggs (none). Clean out and fill their water bowl. Seriously, can my chickens EVER avoid pooping in their water bowl? I’m guessing not because mine always have done that.

Water the garden. See that there are a lot of blackberries ripe today, so I go get a container from the kitchen, turning off the water along the way, and bringing the feed containers back into the garage. (Slipping out of and then back into my chore shoes since those do not ever get worn past the back hall.) Pick the blackberries, and go back inside.

Whew! Morning chores complete, I now get breakfast. It’s blackberries and peanuts in the shell, while drinking water (and a Coke) on the couch, while seeing if there is anything I need to know posted on the various websites I visit.

Shirt, soon to become an apron
This is the shirt that will soon become an apron

Then I decide it’s time to work on an apron I’m making. I bought a super-cheap top at Goodwill that I think will make a really cute apron. It has a loose bodice and two inches of smocking at the top, just straps for sleeves, so it shouldn’t take long. I get the whole thing taken apart and then realize I don’t know where my sewing box is. I haven’t seen it in a while and it isn’t where it is SUPPOSED to be. So I can’t sew the ties onto the back and finish it. Grrrrr. Hubby is studying so I can’t interrupt him to ask if he knows where the sewing box is, so it’ll just have to wait until tonight to be finished.

I baked a cake for a neighbor (on an earlier day) and it’s now time to ice it.  It’s a lemon cake, so vanilla icing should work. I read an article a while ago that said most store-bought icings can be whipped with a mixer to add volume to them, making them easier to spread and reducing the calories in each piece (because the icing will now do two cakes instead of just one). I’m not going to lug out my machine mixer for such a small project, so I try the hand mixer I use for things like pancake mix. No go, the icing is too thick. So I put it in the microwave to warm it up a little, hoping that will help. Well, it’s runnier, but now won’t hold the air I’m whipping into it. Experiment FAIL. So I let the icing cool back into it’s original state while I cut a cardboard box into a flat, thick sheet and cover it with aluminum foil. (I am giving the cake to a neighbor, but don’t want to give away a plate with it.) Put the cake on the foil, and ice it. Looks good.

Walk down the street with the cake and ring the neighbor’s doorbell. No answer. Knock on the door. Still no answer. Seriously? His favorite team is on TV right now and he’s not home watching it??? Whatever, I now walk back home still carrying the cake and put it on the counter. Now I have to keep an eye on it to make sure none of the animals try to take a taste… I trade baked goods with my neighbor in exchange for him mowing my grass, so this cake is pretty valuable and I want it kept in one piece!

rabbit on nest
My doe rabbit sitting on the hay in her nestbox

I remember one of my doe rabbits was put in with the buck about a month ago, and should be put into a hutch alone to prepare for the (hopefully) impending kits. So I go out to rearrange everybody. (Opossum is still in the compost pile. Probably dead, right?) Put another doe in with a buck she’s not been with before, and watch to be sure nobody is going to get hurt. Nah, they’re just playing chase, so I go move the daddy buck to leave the momma-to-be doe in the cage alone. Then I go get the nestbox (and remove all the junk that has accumulated in it since the last time it was used… seriously, why does all this stuff not stay where it’s put? It always grows legs and moves onto whatever it is that I want at the time!) Then I fill the nestbox with hay, scattering hay all over the garage floor in the process. (It’s a new type of hay that’s seriously cheaper, but not baled nearly as well. I’ll have to keep track of how much is wasted to see if it really is cheaper or not. Better write that down or I’ll forget…)

rabbit with hay
Yes, I want hay to eat! You can’t give some to her and not to me!

Go outside to put the nestbox full of hay in with the momma-to-be, and all the other rabbits race to the corner of their hutch that’s closest. Seriously? It’s hot and dry and you want HAY? Yep. So I go back to get the basket, fill it with hay, and bring it out to put some in each rabbit hutch. Momma is sitting in the nestbox on top of the hay, so hopefully she is bred. Most rabbits just sit beside the hay to eat it, not on top of it. Refill the water dish in the hutch of the new couple, in their game of chase they’ve knocked it over, but they’re both tired and thirsty now. Check on the opossum, it’s still in the compost. (Seriously, I am spending WAY too much time checking on this stupid animal that’s probably dead!)

peanuts for lunchGet back in the house, and realize I haven’t had lunch, and it’s way late. So I eat some more peanuts while checking my websites again. Write a touching and sweet status on my FB page for my friends (which of course means I have an excuse to check it more often today, right?)

Then I realize the only meat in the house is frozen whole chickens in my chest freezer, and they’re not going to be defrosted in time to cook one for dinner. Go outside to the freezer to get two of them anyway, reasoning that I can cook one for tomorrow instead. Realize that a rabbit I had to put down is still in that freezer. Whole. Uncovered because of the hurry with which I had to dispatch her before we left on our trip. I decide I don’t have time to deal with that today, but I also don’t want to simply throw the body away because it’s an Angora with all that beautiful fur, so I at least wrap the body in a bag and put it back in the freezer before grabbing two frozen chickens and heading back into the house.

Scrub the sink, fill it with water, and put one chicken in it to defrost tonight so I can crock-pot it in the morning. Put the other in the fridge, after rearranging it so it will fit.

Sdinnerit down to write this blog post, and realize I haven’t done anything for dinner TONIGHT yet. So I get back up, and raid the freezer. I have a package of chicken strips, a package of breaded jalapeno cheese and pepper nuggets, and a package of hashbrowns. That’s so not a healthy or balanced meal, but I’ve eaten nothing but peanuts and blackberries all day, and no way will hubby go out to eat when football is on tonight, and at least I buy the versions of things that are as little-processed as possible, so I say “what the heck, it’s just one meal” and start the oven for the chicken strips. Thankfully I remembered how much heat the oven throws out, and moved the iced cake so the icing wouldn’t melt.

Put chicken strips on the baking sheet, set timer for 10 minutes. Turn chicken, add pepper bits, set timer for 5 minutes. Turn pepper bits, set timer for 5 minutes. Hope everything turns out fine with the temperature on 425 since the chicken is supposed to cook at 400 and the pepper bites at 450. It usually works fine that way, but I’ve never tried these pepper bites before, I got them because they were a freebie. Cook hashbrowns on stovetop at the same time.

But, the hashbrowns aren’t cooking. Gah! Instructions told me to heat oil to medium heat in a skillet, then sprinkle hashbrowns into the skillet until they are half an inch deep. Let cook without disturbing them until the edges brown, then turn the hashbrowns, and continue cooking until done. I couldn’t do that – the sprinkling part, that is. The hashbrowns were frozen in a solid lump. So I microwaved them until they could be pulled apart with a fork, and added them by forkfuls to the skillet. Aparantly that isn’t close enough to work, because although the edges turned brown, they were also stuck tight to the bottom of the skillet and could NOT be turned. The ones that weren’t stuck were still uncooked. So, scrap the hashbrowns because the chicken and jalapeno bites were finished, so I just served them. (Note: I don’t care for the jalapeno bites, but hubby liked them, so that’s OK.) Hubby ate the chicken strips with ranch dressing, I ate mine with honey. Yum. It’s nice to sit and eat dinner.

Time to clean up. Can’t wash dishes yet because the chicken is still taking up half the sink. *Sigh*

Eggs, September 22, 2012
Today’s eggs. Two tan ones from the Rhode Island Reds, and one light green from the Americauna

So I go outside to do the animal chores for the evening before it gets dark. Put on chore shoes, and turn on the water hose. Opossum is still dead. That means it’s really truly dead, right? Maybe I can stop thinking about it now. I collect eggs from the coop – three of them today, very typical for four chickens in their first year of laying. I have three Rhode Island Reds which lay light brown eggs, and an Americauna which lays a light greenish egg. Very cute in the egg cartons together. (The camera makes the green egg look almost flourescent – weird. It isn’t that bright in real life.) When I show my green eggs to people, the first thing they all say is “Green eggs and ham!” Especially funny because that happens to be the book featured on the September page of my Dr. Seuss calendar. Makes me smile every time I see it.

rabbit with hay
Thank you for the dinner and water!

The rabbits are happy to see me. Each gets a filled water bowl, and a scoop of pellets. I would reduce the amount of pellets if they had eaten something like apples or greens, but I don’t reduce it for hay. Gotta remember to count the rabbits in each hutch since I moved several around earlier, and I don’t want to put the wrong amount of feed in any hutch. They appreciate the attention, coming to the hutch openings to say “hello”. The friendliest ones get head scratches before they hop off to eat their dinners.

Chickens want out
My chickens waiting at the door of their run, hoping to be turned loose in the yard

Dusk is almost here, so I decide to let the chickens have this last half-hour of the day loose in the yard. They love it loose, but I’m not sure of their potential to escape, so I always stay outside when they’re loose. I take a book and sit on the deck while the chickens scratch the yard, finding lots of little treats to munch. I’m reading Janet Evanovich’s “One for the Money” series – I just started book eight. Sitting with the chickens lets me get to page 34. When the chickens start making their way back to the run I put the failed hashbrowns and peanut shells in the run for them to pick at before they completely put themselves to bed in the coop. (Peanut shells are great for traction when the weather makes the ground in the chicken run slippery, which it does often in Oregon.) I’ll go back out when it’s full dark and lock the door to the coop, safely securing the chickens for the night.

Grated Fels Naptha soap
Grated Fels Naptha soap looks like grated cheese – but tastes much different!

I go back inside, and grate the soap I need for a load of laundry. Not doing the laundry until tomorrow, but if I wait until tomorrow to grate the soap, you just know something will happen. Better to be prepared, so I grate the soap. The other ingredients are Borax and Washing Soda, which I have already, so no problem there.

The chicken has not vanished from the sink yet, so I go take it out of the sink, put it in a plastic bag, and store it in the fridge. It will make a good after-church lunch tomorrow. Yum!

And now I sit down at 8:30 to finish this blog post, and then tackle a computer game that I want to win. A very busy, but productive day. Hubby will do the dishes later, I don’t have to worry about those.

So, dear friend, have I tired you out yet? Like we discussed earlier, I definately couldn’t do this lifestyle if I had a 40 hour a week office job. But as busy as it is, I love this better. If you get to bed before I do, have a nice dream for me! Mine tend to have chickens and rabbits in them, lately.


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