Still Working on Horse Feet

I’m working on horse feet in more ways than one these days. Animals have a lot to teach us, both scientifically and intuitively.

In science news, we learned a lot about horse feet (hooves) with Trixie’s latest visit, and we learned that Fiona loves Sara more than we ever realized. She spent a long time leaning on Sara and asking for hugs.

My feet are fine, I’m just spreading love — Fiona

Trixie has most of the damaged area of Apache’s feet trimmed off, but we were all shocked to see how much hoof separation he suffered. It’s scary. Laminitis can be deadly. We’re lucky we still have him.

The black crack shows damage.

We also talked about how he always does a little buck and stumble when transitioning to a canter (which explains my lack of cantering experience). Trixie did more chiropractic work in his spleen area. As always, Apache was a trooper and relaxed happily when it was over.

Whoa, I feel better.

I got to watch a little of the work Trixie did on Ace. He wasn’t used to what she did, but he got a pretty funny look when he realized he felt better!

What are you doing?
Sara listens to Trixie explaining what good shape Ace is in.

Trimming his feet was a bit difficult, because it had been a while since his last trim, and I heard Ace’s feet were a bit sore yesterday. Today he was walking fine, but I didn’t see him run. it just shows how important horse feet are!

Apache has never had such fine looking feet before!

So, yesterday I went off and rode Apache alone again. He was feeling okay, but didn’t want to walk on the hard driveway. I don’t blame him. It was pretty challenging for a number of reasons.

First, it was really windy, which often gets the horses on edge. Second, our dogs were out, barking and chasing cows, which puts me on edge. And third, Fiona was in a mood. A really annoying mood.

Once we got near the front cattle tank, she acted like she was full of beans. She ran up and down the sides of the tank, ran back and forth in front of me and Apache, while braying endlessly, and kept doing sudden turns and pivots. Once or twice would have been fine, but she kept it up for ten minutes or more.

I tried to be good. But I love grass.

Apache had already been a bit of a handful, focused on grass and not me. I was a little worried she’d spook him. So, I stopped him and breathed deeply. He just watched Fiona acting like she had a bee up her butt. I counted that as a win.

It was still a challenge to get Apache to pay attention to me. He would duck his head, spin his feet, and do what he could to avoid my instruction. I kept asking, then resting, then asking, and finally, I could feel him settle down. He walked back to the barn calmly, like nothing had happened out in that windy pasture. I learned a lot. I can trust Apache even when he’s antsy, and we can get through weird days. Whew.

All’s well as long as us horses and people keep learning from each other and moving those feet.

Curbing Your Anti-racist Enthusiasm

Wait, wait, I’m not going to tell anyone not to continue in their work to fight racism, point it out when they see it, or work on their own behavior and bias with regard to race. Nope, nope, that’s not where I’m going. But, I do want to share some insights I’ve been having as I watch discussions about race happening, and how the books I’ve recently been reading cause me to see them differently.

Here’s a very passionate young person I do my best to learn from.

The material I’ve been reading on unconscious bias has made it clear that, thanks to growing up in a particular society at a particular time, each of us presents ourselves to the world through the lens of our own biases, some of which are helpful and some of which may be less so. A good thing I’ve read is that the people born more recently may well be less prone to some of the racial biases that older people may have grown up with. A large percentage of younger adults in the US grew up in diverse neighborhoods, attended diverse schools, and are familiar with a wider range of US cultures (most young people I know are fans of music from urban, African, Caribbean, Latino, Korean, Indian and other artists), and have friends and colleagues from highly diverse backgrounds. So, they have a different set of biases from older Americans.

People my kids’ age tend to make friends based on common interests and experiences. This often leads to racially diverse friends with strong bonds in other areas. (Some don’t; I over-generalize.) Photo by @SBphoto via Twenty20.

I am very happy about this, and very interested in learning from people of my children’s generation. Sometimes it’s hard, though, because in their anti-racist enthusiasm they push their audience away.

Another fact about a large subset of younger adults is that their preferred methods of interacting with others tend to be more confrontational, less “polite,” and less patient when sharing their views with others (not implying only young people act this way, it’s more appropriate in some cultures, too). This is the part that causes communication problems with people who grew up avoiding confrontation, focusing on polite behavior, and a conversation style that includes acknowledging the potential validity of the other person’s point of view. Neither of these ways of interacting is all right or all wrong; there are issues with each one, which I’m going to let you think of for yourselves.

Admirably, many people in the 18-30-ish age group want to create a better society and are working hard toward those goals. They feel passionate about the rights of people of color, LGBTQ+, poor people, and the oppressed around the world. Yay for them! Those are goals shared by many older people, too, though their methods of working toward it are different, and often unpopular with younger folks (which is fine and normal; I’m not complaining, just noticing).

The thing is, I’m wondering what the goals the young and fervent activists are working toward might be.

  • Are they trying to change people’s minds? I wonder if calling people you don’t know racist for actions you don’t even know that they’ve done is terribly helpful (for example, I have been sitting back and watching a woman lecturing an obviously white woman about how race and racism work, blissfully unaware (or not listening hard enough to realize) that the second woman has a black husband and family members). It’s racist to assume someone has beliefs because of their looks, period. And yes, being in an interracial relationship doesn’t mean you have no bias and can shut down conversation (sorry if I’m not clear about this; I’m still learning).
  • Are they trying to prove how ethically advanced and modern they are? In this case, demonstrating that you’re a passionate anti-racist while bullying and insulting others shows ALL your ethics, quite clearly.
  • Are they trying to sow unity? Are they trying to add to divisiveness? These are my big questions. I’ve been observing people pick at others for not being non-racist in the “right” way (say, for adopting a child of another race, without knowing whether a white adoptive parent may have a black or Asian partner or other black or Asian children). It reminds me of one branch of a religion not saying another branch is Christian enough, or Muslim enough, or the right kind of Buddhist, without remembering they all are focused on the same overall goal, which is love.

This is why I wish more of us knew HOW our unconscious biases work, and that none of us is above them or immune to them. I see a lot of bias against older people in the passionate younger folks. That’s too bad, since when I was a young, passionate feminist, I learned a LOT from the women who’d gone before me, which helped me not repeat some mistakes and not burn some bridges. Perhaps some of us older folks might have useful insights, if we could share our perspectives without being silenced or labeled.

I know I harp on this message. It’s because I think the ONLY way we can make a better world is to listen to each other, maybe even respectfully.

And some of us elders want to silence and label younger folks. None of that is helpful, because the one thing I’ve learned is that the best way to limit the effects of unconscious bias is to get to know members of the groups you may have trouble with. Spending quality time in conversation and interaction with the “other” is guaranteed to help all of us realize that “they” are not a monolithic group, but diverse, varied, and interesting. Not all elderly people are the stereotypical MAGA-hat wearing, flag waving, insular white folks. They are not all inflexible members of the liberal elite. Not all young people hate everything that isn’t socialist or everyone who doesn’t fall into their definition of “woke” (insert current term for woke there). But, if we just talk AT each other rather than WITH each other, we’ll never figure that out.

We all have our blind spots, our prejudices, our biases, and our areas of passion. Not everyone will share them, and not everyone will even express the same biases and passions in the same way we do. We will never grow as human beings nor as a society if we don’t listen to other points of view. Even people we think are dead wrong in one area may have something “right” to share with us in another area, which we’d never find out if we just dismiss them out of hand.

I interrupt this diatribe with a photo of a dishcloth (with an error; I’m keeping this one). YOU can have one if you sponsor this blog and its companion podcast!

I know my audience skews toward people of my age, but still, I want to reach out to those younger than me to listen to us, and give us a chance to share what we’ve been through and how we got there. And then share with people my age what YOU are going through and how you got there, rather than pointing fingers at us, labeling us, and dismissing us. Being young doesn’t invalidate anyone’s experiences and insights, but neither does being old. We can all learn from each other, but we might have to stop talking sometimes and listen.

Rather than trying to drag others kicking and screaming into the new and more advanced world, I’d love to see enthusiastic and passionate people reaching out a hand and gently lifting up others, knowing that they used the experiences of those who came before as stepping stones to get where they are today.

I’m the Sherlock Holmes of Nesting Hens

This one had us laughing much of last night. You may remember that not too long ago, I used my chicken detective skills to discover that my Hermits’ Rest hens had decided to start laying eggs in an artificial Christmas wreath on top of our garage refrigerator. I’d looked high and low, but finally saw Springsteen up on the fridge in the middle of the day, looking very much like she was laying an egg. Now everyone lays there except Bertie Lee (mystery location) and Star, who’s brooding three eggs in the nest box, where they are supposed to be laying eggs. I just climb up on the fridge every day and retrieve the eggs. Not an elegant solution, but it works.

There’s one more chicken, though. Big Red lives with Apache and Fiona, and I hadn’t gotten an egg from her in over a year. Hmm.

I think I’m a horse.

What’s Red’s Story?

Well, once upon a time about three or four years ago, there was a chicken coop and run over the cabin on the greater ranch property. At one point, two people decided to raise some chicks, and got like two dozen production red chicks and two dozen black meat chickens. It was fun to watch them grow and grow. (Here’s a link to a longer story from 2018; podcast listeners can search for chickens on the blog and find it.)

I really loved these guys.

Soon we were getting a LOT of eggs (I say “we” because I took care of them when their caregivers were out of town). I dutifully trotted them up to the neighbors’ storage area and labeled them, where they got sold at farmer’s markets.

Fast forward, and one partner stopped coming around, the residents at the cabin moved out, and I ended up being the caretaker. More babies arrived, some we bought and some that came as gifts. I became the half owner. We ended up with Americaunas, barred rocks, leghorns, and more and more. I sure enjoyed all those chickens, and enjoyed selling my half at work.

Yep, the neighbors had a LOT of chickens back in the day. That’s Buckbeak, the nice rooster, in the center.

At some point, an owl began systematically eliminating the chickens, including the wonderful rooster we had back then. Sniff. I felt powerless, because there was no roof on the chicken yard, and a hole in the door to the coop, which allowed owls in. But it wasn’t my coop, so I couldn’t exactly work on it. The other partner was going to make the hens all into sausage, so I took over as the queen of the dwindling flock. It was sad.

I decided to let nature take its course (which was awful, with so many dead hens), and to just get myself my own chickens at my house, with an enclosed coop, where they would be easier to care for and less vulnerable. As we know, the joke was on me, because we still lose chickens to predators over at our part of the ranch, though we have been working hard on keeping the chickens safe…at least when they are young. The old ones insist on living outside.

Well, I thought all the chickens over there were gone and stopped feeding them. But, soon we realized there was still ONE old chicken left. That’s Big Red. She outlived them all. She was out scrounging for bugs and grain over by the horse area. That made sense.

Plenty to eat around here! (August 2020)

We’ve enjoyed her antics with Fiona and Apache, especially when she drinks from the big troughs. We never found any eggs, but once found her laying an egg with no shell. That led me to start bringing some chicken feed over to her, which we give her when we feed the horses.

She’s a fine hen, and that’s no bull. (This beefy guy is behind our house.)

Once she started eating, she began to look better and better. She doesn’t look at all like an “old” hen, and she’s friendly as heck. She made it through the cold weather, too, and had a nice warm place to hide out. For the past few weeks, though, we’d been wondering if her improved nutrition has enabled her to start laying. I put on my detective hat again.

I’ve been looking in various spots, like the storage area, the cattle pens, etc. No eggs. Then, day before yesterday, I heard an odd noise in the old chicken run. There was Big Red, scratching away. Hmm, I hadn’t seen her over there in a long, long time.

So, yesterday, on a whim, I decided to take a look in the nesting boxes where the hens used to all lay. Oh my goodness. There were 9 lovely Big Red eggs in there!

What??? Eggs!

Well, of course. The great egg detective figured out that the eggs were in the egg boxes. Go me!

Which egg in the Easter basket is not from Big Red?

I took the eggs home, curious as to whether I’d found fresh eggs or ancient eggs. I tested them in a bowl of water, and while none of them floated (which means they aren’t old, rotten, bad, and such), a few of them were iffy. They are marked for future hard boiled eggs.

It’s hard to tell, but this is a picture of the eggs NOT floating.

My guess is that, at her age, Big Red is laying a couple of times per week, so these eggs may be from about the time the cold weather event occurred. I’ll be checking daily from now on, so I’ll know how often she’s laying. I’m so surprised and pleased that she’s still churning out eggs, especially since the production hens tend to lay a lot for the first year, then pretty much stop after their second year. Way to go, Big Red!

Now Suna the great hen detective needs to solve the Bertie Lee mystery. She should still be laying…somewhere.

Book Report: Everyday Bias

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Did you think I was finished with unconscious bias books? You’d be almost right. I just have this one more book to talk about before I move on to books about diversity and inclusion. Totally different, yep. This one’s really good, though, even though it talks about many of the same topics as the previous books did. Everyday Bias: Identifying and Navigating Unconscious Judgments in our Daily Lives (updated edition), by Howard J. Ross (2020) is guaranteed to get you thinking, challenge you, and to my immense relief, offer some hope for humanity.

I really like the “voice” of Ross, which shines through all the book’s content. You feel like you’re right there with him figuring out that we’re all acting on our biases 24/7 and that’s just the way we are built. He shares lots of data about our friend, the amygdala, and how it’s apt to put us on autopilot any time something stressful or scary happens. And he notes that we can’t make that thing stop!

Somewhat garish cover, but great book!

Ross also reminds us that we can’t exactly help where we were born, in what community, and to which parents. All of these things get us wired in certain ways that we can’t control. I like that he declares it a waste of time to constantly apologize for being biased or to poke at people for having them. His best point in the whole book is that by constantly reminding people of the harm their biases causes others (like women telling men how they’ve been harmed, black people saying the many ways white culture has affected them) we aren’t going to make things better. The reverse is often the case, and can perhaps explain all the racist and sexist groups we are hearing from more and more these days.

I think it’s true that some folks are just going to continue on their merry ways with their biases against certain other people and groups, and there’s not much we can do about it. No one’s immune, so we are just gonna have Jews who are biased against blacks, gays who dislike Muslims, or so on and so on. No group of humans is without us versus them ingrained in us, because it’s normal.

Luckily, Ross reminds us of neuroplasticity, which is the ability of our brains to change. He then spends the last part of the book providing clear, helpful ideas for working to mitigate the effects of our bias in the workplace and in our personal lives. He gives great information on six things to work on in Chapter 7:

  1. Recognize that bias is a normal part of human existence. (Stop judging others so much and work on your own self. I have a few super-judgy trolls in groups I maintain that need this.)
  2. Develop a capacity for self-observation. (It turns out that relaxing, meditation, etc., can calm that amygdala right down and let you think about your thinking.)
  3. Practice constructive uncertainty. (Stop to figure out WHY you have a strong reaction to something.)
  4. Explore awkwardness and discomfort. (Figure out your triggers.)
  5. Engage with people in groups you may not know very well, or about whom you may harbor biases. (Get to know an Other!)
  6. Get feedback and data. (Facts!)

In the next chapter, he lists eight ways to work on eliminating bias in hiring, promotions, and that sort of thing in businesses. It’s quite helpful.

And finally, what warmed my heart is that Ross truly feels that if we pay attention to our biases, we can create a better world. He talks about how what appear to be groves of individual trees are in reality one big, connected organism (as I’ve read before), and uses it as a metaphor for people:

We look at the “other” as if he or she is separate from us. We see the other group as a threat. And yet, we are all deeply connected. We share a common destiny on this planet. We all seek pleasure and do our best to avoid pain. We all want what is best for our children and grandchildren. All of us are the products of that which we have seen before. And we are all (for the most part), unconscious about the “programming” that runs our thoughts and our lives.

We can transcend. We can, through discipline, practice, and awareness, find a new way to relate that honors our differences yet also builds upon our similarities.

Howard J Ross, p. 148

I think he finally put into words all the reasons why I have been so doggedly introspective for the past few years. I want to GET THERE NOW and do my part to fix some of my ingrained biases. It’s not possible to know all that’s going on in our busy brains, but with at least some of us trying to raise awareness of some of our areas of bias, it’s a start.

Fine book. Made me feel empowered.

The Student Becomes the Teacher

I remember, in my youth, the first time I became a teacher of linguistics in addition to being a student. It was a gentle introduction, since I co-taught with one of my professors, but it really did me a lot of good. They say that you really start to master a subject once you teach it, and “they” (whoever they are) are telling the truth! The stuff I learned when teaching interested college students about linguistics, as well as teaching grumpy engineering students about rhetoric for engineers sticks with me today.

Here’s a shameful admission: the ONLY writing class I ever took after high school English was reading the textbook for engineering rhetoric a chapter ahead of the students the first time I taught it. Yep, I taught myself technical writing. That seems to have worked out.

What? I can’t believe you never took a class. Also, I still don’t love this food.

I watched this phenomenon of the student becoming the teacher play out yesterday, when we went out to play with the horses. Sara had already worked with Ace in the morning, so today she saddled him and put a bridle on him. The bit was a new surprise for him, but by the end of the day, he could eat grass with it. He’s no fool!

What the heck is going on here? Does this saddle make my butt look big? Photo by Sara.

So, I brushed tons of hair off Apache, then got him all saddled up, while Sara took Ace to the round pen for some groundwork (that’s when you teach a horse to follow your instructions while running around). I started groundwork using a rope, but she was doing it “at liberty,” which means you’re in the pen with a horse who can do whatever it wants to (including, one hopes, what you ask it to).

It was quite an active scene, with Ace running and bucking and doing the kinds of things a horse who’s learning will do. Meanwhile, I decided it would be a good opportunity to help Apache keep focused on doing what I ask him to do, no matter what’s going on around him. We did patterns and turns, and different ways of approaching obstacles, and he did an impressive job of not paying much attention to Sara and Ace.

Ace was making progress, but not finding it easy to settle down, being burdened with all this new paraphernalia on him. He truly did not want to calmly walk in a circle. So, we tried having Apache be his role model. We walked calmly around the outside of the round pen, while Ace and Sara walked on the inside. Sure enough, Ace matched Apache’s mood and pace, and we walked in both directions just fine. That was the perfect time to stop the lesson, while success was happening.

I also stopped to look at flowers. These two types of verbena look very different right next to each other!

I was proud of Apache for being a good teacher. Both horses got their reward when we walked to the end of the driveway again, me mounted and Sara alongside of Ace. Then we enjoyed a grazing break again. That was also good practice. It’s nice that these two get along so well.

We’re friends, so we don’t bother each other.

I know it’s really good for Apache to be the calm, reasonable role model for the first time in his life. I can tell he enjoyed doing it, and he didn’t even realize that yesterday was the second time we ever rode without another person riding with us. Score!

Plus we had a big ole full Passover moon! Photo by Lee.

That’s it for today’s horse report. Don’t worry, I won’t be writing about Ace progress every day, even though his owner says this makes him “famous.” But, Trixie comes today, so we may need a foot report!

A Familiar Bird All Dressed Up

It’s much cooler this morning than it was yesterday, so I wish today was the massive hay-bale unloading day. And, yes, I have a sore back and arms, but that’s not gonna stop me from getting out and doing things! Um, and theoretically today I’ll finally have time to work on the newsletter that’s going sort of slowly this week.

Anyway, I have a bird story. Every day when I wake up, I head over to our second-story bedroom window that faces the chickens and the pond to see what’s going on in the world. I can see dogs, hens, horses, cattle, and often birds.

Today, I saw two white birds by the pond. Seeing a white bird is not uncommon, since we have a Great Egret who visits often. These two looked like egrets, but not so great. They were smaller and had patches of a pretty salmon color on their heads and backs. They looked like this:

Photo from iNaturalist, copyright (c) Charlotte Bill.

I couldn’t get a photo, since my phone was updating its OS. The nerve. I wracked my not-really-awake-yet brain trying to figure out what it could be. It had a poky bill, so it wasn’t a duck. It had a long neck, but not THAT long of a neck. And it looked like an egret with a short neck and a short bill.

Isn’t that a pretty bird? Photo from iNaturalist, copyright (c) Charlotte Bill.

The phone finally finished updating, so I could look it up on Merlin Bird ID. That is one helpful piece of software! I entered its size as smaller than a goose, and its colors as white and orange. I couldn’t wait to see what exotic creature I’d seen, but not been able to photograph. I had to laugh when I saw what came up. The birds are a pair of cattle egrets in breeding plumage!

My own best picture of cattle egrets, in a large flock.

My gosh, I’ve been seeing these birds my entire life, but the color fooled me. Now I know they get all colorful this time of year. Looking through the photos on iNaturalist, I could see they can be quite colorful. I read that they get more colorful in some other parts of the world, too.

Learning about these guys (Bubulcus ibis) on Wikipedia explained to me why I’ve seen them my whole life. It turns out that they were first introduced to the US (escaping captivity) in Florida, where I spent my childhood! They were observed breeding there in the late 1950s, and had spread to Canada in just ten years. Wow. They also busily expanded from their native Iberian peninsula, too. I guess where there are cattle, they follow.

I have a vague memory of my mom mentioning that they didn’t see them when she was younger, which makes sense to me now. I strongly remember finding these birds very funny when they rode around on the backs of the huge herds of Hereford cattle we’d see in north Florida in the 60s.

I guess it pays to wake up and look out the window, because it can lead you to learning a lot more about a bird you’ve enjoyed your whole life! It pays to stay curious!

Apache Has a New Buddy

I’m pretty wiped out, but I have to share the fun and work that happened today in the horse department. Sara has been wanting a horse to work with while Spice isn’t rideable, so she talked to our friend, Sheila, who owns a horse Sara worked with 7 years ago, when I first was hanging out here. Sheila said she’d be happy to send the gelding over for some fun.

Our old pal, Ace.

Ace is a huge, black solid paint gelding (that means he has the pain gene, but isn’t all spotty). He’s so tall Sara has trouble putting his halter on. He has one blue eye and tiny bits of white on him. Not only is he gorgeous, but he has a great personality.

Big and beefy!

Sara said he was happy to see her, like he remembered her. And he wasn’t too hard to load, either.

There he is in the trailer! Photo by Sheila Sager

Once he got to our horse area, Sara called me so I could see him. He was so calm and nice.

See his blue eye?

I wonder if he remembered being here before? He and Apache still seem to be buddies, that’s for sure.

Hello old friend! Photo by Sara Faivre.

Later, Sara and Ralph brought a lot of square bales they’d bought nearby. This will keep us in hay for a good while. But, we had to get it off the trailer! Oh my.

Half the hay is off.

I’m not the strongest city girl in the world, and it was not easy to move it all. Plus it’s the first hot day of the year. We reminded ourselves we weren’t racing and let ourselves rest.

She is a lot stronger than me! But tired!

We did it! We had another challenge, because some of the bales came apart. But Sara had great ideas, did some skillful trailer maneuvering, and we got all the broken ones safely over by the horses.

Lots of hay.

As tired and hot as we were, we were going to do some fun activities with our new friend! We are taking it slow, since Ace is gentle, but doesn’t have much experience under saddle. So, we took Ace and Apache on a nice walk down the driveway.

Excellent grass over here!!

It was fun, but both Apache and I were sweaty. He’s losing his winter coat, so every time he bumped into me, more white hair got on my arms, my shirt, and my watch. It was pretty filthy.

I got a snack! Yummy sow thistle!

He’s had these extra-long winter hairs, and today they got all tangled up and coming right off if I pulled them. They resemble a dish scrubbie or something. I must say I’ll be glad when all the hair is shed.

In any case, the horses had a nice time grazing, while Sara and I rested. Ralph even brought us some cold beverages to enjoy. What a great way to bond with horses and enjoy a Saturday!

Such a fun guest!

As we were leaving, we fed the horses their grain and supplements. We of course gave Ace some, to make up for the wormer he got earlier. Well, he didn’t think much of our beet pulp and toppings. We think he didn’t like the garlic. It was really funny watching him dig through the bowl trying to find something palatable. He ended up dumping the bowl upside down and looking very disappointed.

The food at this establishment does not meet my standards.

I can’t wait to watch as Ace learns new things with my ranch buddy, Sara. I always have liked him, and am amazed at his gentle spirit. Sheila has done a good job with him!

Trying Again with Chicken Parenting

Since it’s looking like it will still be a while before the relatives are back and I can get some new pullets (I need help rearranging the coop), I decided to try the old egg experiment again. You see, for the past few days when I go outside to feed my little flock of 6 (five hens and Bruce, the rooster), I see this:

MMM, chicken scratch.

Yes, I see five chickens. Someone is missing. That would be Star, the beautiful and large gray Czech Blue Sapphire hen. Coincidentally, she is now the only one laying in the actual hen boxes, since she chased Buttercup and Henley away. I still don’t know where Bertie Lee is laying, but everyone else has been laying away since it warmed up.

I’m busy. Shut the dang door.

Yes, Star has gone broody on us. I guess it’s her turn. I decided to go ahead and let her set on some eggs, if she’s so fired up about it. I took a couple eggs from the other hens and stuck them under her, so I’m guessing she has 3-4 under her (including one dud). I wrote down on the calendar when 21 days would be up, and we will see if she continues to brood away and produces some chicks.

I know she’s eating, because she gets out for a while when it’s warm outside. That’s probably when it’s easiest to maintain warmth. She’s definitely in there all night, and not taking up space in the garage (yay). So, I guess we have another waiting game on our hands, and this time no one is gonna shew the broody hen off the nest. We can spare a few eggs, and who knows, maybe some of them will hatch into hens that lay green eggs (thanks to their baby daddy, Bruce, who’s an Easter Egger).

I’m looking forward to hearing from you all! Send me some comments. Blog listeners can even send voice messages (unless that turns out to be a big mistake).

Why I Haven’t Upped My Game Recording Myself Talk

Lee asked me why I’ve been recording my podcasts the way I have, quickly, and using simple software.

It’s a good question. If I’d never recorded myself before, the Anchor software would be where to start. It has sounds, transitions, and a way to record. There’s an easy interface for putting episodes together, and they publish them. Nice!

A floral interruption: hairy spiderwort.

But I recorded myself talking for a living for quite a few years. Yes. I made incredibly boring e-learning modules for large software companies. I had to have really good editing software to edit out all my flubs, burps, clicks, and gasps. There were a lot of hard-to-pronounce acronyms in those scripts.

I also put together simple musical pieces, and lived with a sound engineer. I’m able to do things like put music under my speech, too.

But, do I have me smoothly introducing the podcast over Declan’s guitar music? Nope. Do I edit out my errors in reading? Nope. Do I use my fancy microphone? Nope. Is it sort of annoying? Probably. Certainly for Lee.

Equipment. I have some.

But hey, I’m doing the podcast for fun, because I got requests. It’s not my job. Firing up Audacity and fixing all the glitches, silencing the background noise, and making fancy introductions and credits is…work. I am having fun, folksy mistakes and all.

I must say I was embarrassed that my previous podcast episode got recorded silently. Ya know, I really should have previewed it. Amateur!

But, Lee has a point. I’ll up my game, at least a bit! After all, I have supporters. I owe it to them. Ooh! And I owe them their benefits! I’m ready to start making dishcloths, too! A big box with one skein In every color of Dishie cotton yarn arrived today.

Yarn! Plus some for me.

I’m starting my first set of dishcloths tomorrow. That will be fun! As long as it’s fun, I’m going for it. (Psst…I’m hoping to make more for future supporters).

Looking forward to even more fun tomorrow, with horses (a new one!) flowers and all the usual stuff.

Happy COVID Freedom Day to Me

Today’s a milestone that never could have happened before this year. It’s been two weeks since my second COVID vaccine, so my immunity has officially kicked in. I am free to move about the country now! I even gave myself a bouquet of wildflowers to celebrate.

Toadflax isn’t a beautiful name, but it’s in the snapdragon family, which is cool. This stuff is everywhere right now. Small but mighty.

Look, I know this doesn’t mean I’m immune, nor that I can’t transmit the virus if I somehow became infected (no idea how that could happen, since I haven’t been going anywhere). But it does mean I don’t need to have that fear hanging over my head if I need to go to the grocery store or want to do something fun. And I WILL wear a mask when going to crowded places, because I’d prefer to avoid getting even a mild case, seeing all the long-term effects those around me are experiencing.

Even a cute, little bug is a bug, right?

I look forward to being able to hang out with vaccinated friends and have a chat, with coffee or wine. I can sit on the porch with Mandi again! I will feel okay traveling and seeing my relatives who are vaccinated. To be honest, I simply feel lighter and freer than I have in over a year. And by gosh, I’m going to go HUG SOMEONE. How rash!

Small things CAN be beautiful, both hanging around with friends and a tiny blue-eyed grass blossom.

There’s still plenty to do right here at the ranch, though. I’m still reading all those books on bias, knitting away at my current project while waiting for the yarn for my supporter gifts to arrive, and hanging out with the animals. It’s a full life, right here on the ranch. That’s especially true at my favorite time of the year, when every day brings new flowers (also, the swallows have returned!).

Getting closer to 60 inches of entrelac, so I can start the lace border on this wrap.

I hope you and your circle are starting to become more fully vaccinated. I know we all want to see friends and family sooner rather than later!

Even the trees are blooming! This is black willow that’s grown up by the driveway.