And then there were nine.

We are down to nine chickens, from a dozen last fall.
 Kramer, of the criss cross beak went first.  We were surprised she lasted as long as she did.  As she grew, her beak got progressively worse and there was really nothing to be done about it.  She was half the size of the others, but definitely had the strongest personality.  She often wandered away from the rest of the flock, just doing her own thing.  She was quite fearless.  Ultimately though, she just wasn’t getting enough food to sustain her.  
 Butters, the large Buff Cochin rooster, was sent to the farm to live after he started turning a little ornery and chasing people.  
 Cuddles, aka, Rosebud aka Ruby aka Diana, the little soft grey chick that struggled along, then turned into a big, beautiful, white fluffy White Cochin, passed away after taking sick during that bitter cold stretch we had in January.  
She was everyone’s favorite, hence all her names.  When Brian came over to tell us, he was a little upset.  Edie was upset too when we finally broke the news to her.  Not as upset as when she learned about Kramer, but still sad. 
I suspect Ozzy misses her too.  I got a whole set of shots of those two snuggled up just a few weeks ago, as they appeared to be chatting under the back porch.
Well, maybe not chatting as much as Ozzy walking over and resting her head on top of Cuddles, appearing to console her.  Looking at these now, I wonder if Cuddles was ill back then and Ozzy knew.
Owlface appears to be our best layer, laying at least one green egg a day for us.
Although Ozzy isn’t too far behind.  Ozzy continues to be our funky chicken, with her lopsided crest that hangs over one eye.  I think she’s a Houdan breed, which is originally from France.  She is hands down, Edie’s favorite chicken of them all and with the loss of Kramer & Butters, she’s now the first chicken to come running out to greet whatever human she sees.
Their house is down at Brian’s, two doors down and yet they wander over to our yard daily.  It’s uncanny how they know who feeds them. 
During a warm spell last week I tried to capture the sights of the front yard – Edie plopped in the front yard, talking on the phone while supposedly doing her homework, meanwhile the chickens wandering about.
Just another day in the neighborhood.

Holiday highlights.

Best Present Ever.
A vintage purple glass chicken candy dish.
And a stocking full of candy to fill it.
I’ve always wanted one of these, but have never said a peep about it. Somehow he knew.  The Kitchen Aid stand mixer (circa Christmas 1995) comes close, but something about finding something vintage, purple and a chicken without any prompting this far into things trumps all other presents ever.  
Did I mention the stocking full of candy to keep it filled for some time to come?
Our first eggs from the girls.

A marathon baking session with Betty.  Okay, more like, I took over Betty’s kitchen and oversaw a marathon baking session that included her chocolate chip cookies, Edie & Soph rolling out sugar cookies while I whipped up 5 pies for Betty’s holiday desserts and cleaned up after everyone wearing my  holiday apron made out of my parent’s former Christmas tablecloth that they received as a wedding present.  It’s got 40-something years of gravy, wine and chocolate cake stains.  It makes me unbelievably happy to wear all those memories while making more. 
An impromptu drop in at the Patience homestead resulting in her sharing one of her mince pies with us that somehow became the property of just Edie – making that not-so-wee-one’s holiday complete.  She’d heard mincemeat pies were traditional holiday fare and knowing I had some mincemeat in the freezer, was lobbying for me to make her a pie.   So, thank you Patience for saving Edie’s Christmas and saving me from making one more pie. She even shared a bite with Pat & I, despite swearing up one side and down the other it was never going to happen.
The best part of the holiday though, may be the days after Christmas, the ones where we sleep gloriously late, stay in our pj’s most of the day and eat our way through the leftovers I spent days cooking in anticipation of hanging up my apron for a few days.  Yes, that is definitely the highlight of my holiday, the complete and utter lack of obligations to anyone and anything other lazing around the house with my two very favorite people in the entire world.
 

Updates

I have a gazillion things to do, but being the structured procrastinator that I am, I thought I’d use a blog post to help me organize my thoughts and photos.  Or continue to put off what I really need to be doing…
First up, the chickens.

They are almost full size hens.

Ozzy has gotten even more bizarre looking.

Although she is beautiful, isn’t she?
We love our funky chicken.

Butters may very well be a he. 
But he’s well mannered and as long as he stays that way, he is welcome in the coop.
The first time he gets mean to anyone, he’s chicken pot pie.  I’ve explained this to him/her and I think he/she gets it.

Harriet and Cuddles.  Cuddles is still the fluffiest chicken around. 
Brian named Harriet in honor of the old show ‘Ozzie and Harriet’, trying to balance out the fact that we named a chicken after a bat-eating heavy metal rock star.  At least someone around here has family values.
Remember last spring when I was all about ripping up the back yard by hand and I was on a mission to find a metal table and chairs for back there?

Well, I found one.  When Edie’s bff and family moved to Guatemala,  I offered to save them the trouble of shipping their table and chairs by letting them store it in my back yard.  We plan on painting it at some point, but in the meantime, it’s getting alot of good use.
And the butterfly bush that I thought I killed not only made a come back, but it bloomed this year!  A small one and only one, but it’s a bloom. 

The patchouli plant has taken off too. 
I’ve been playing around with a nice camera these days and I just happened to snap this as I was wandering around the back yard.  I sort of like how it turned out.

All that time spent digging weeds up by hand, we still have lots of weeds back there.  Sigh.  Every time I think I make headway, it rains and things grow back.  Still, it’s getting there.  I do like the lush, overgrown look.

Although this zebra grass by the side of the road needs to go.  I seriously thinned it this spring and look at it.  Anyone want some zebra grass?  I’m hacking it back to a tiny amount and I hate to throw out living plants, but I have no other place for it.  Drop me a line if you want some ornamental grasses.

Another view of my new table and chairs.  Don’t they look sweet back there?  What color should we paint them?  Definitely something to hide the gunk that seems to collect on outdoor furniture.  Chocolate brown?  I know white is classic and I’d love, LOVE to paint them white, but they will show so much dirt and I’ll have to repaint them every year and I’m way too lazy for that.
The weather has finally cooled down, the humidity has gone away and after I tackle this deadline this week, I’ve got some house reorganization plans I’m a little excited about.  It’s never a dull moment here.

Although, I do wonder how many more moments like this we have left – where she drags her kitchen set and babydolls outside for a picnic while Pat paints the boat.  She yelled at me for taking pictures “WHY DO YOU ALWAYS HAVE TO TAKE PICTURES?” but someday, she’s going to look back and be happy I did.
At least I hope she is.

Funky Chickens.

The chicks are fast growing into chickens, sprouting real feathers.
Some of them have been given names.
Like this one.
Edie named this one Ozzy, after her favorite rock star, mostly because of the black lines around her eyes.

That was before we saw the mohawk too.
Ozzy is quite vocal of a chicken and lives up to her name.
She is our punk rock chicken for sure, because of course we have a punk rock chicken.

Cuddles aka Rosebud aka Rose aka Ruby. 
She’s the neighborhood kids favorite and so everyone has a different name for her (Li has a new name for her almost daily), also the smallest and sweetest of the chickens.
She’s now sprouting feathers on her legs and feet.
She was grey as a chick, but her feathers seem to be coming in more white as she gets bigger.

This is Butters.
There is some concern Butters may actually be a rooster, given her(his?) size and aggressiveness, although I noticed when I was down there today she’s not as aggressive as she had been.  She has been the biggest chick since they were about 3 days old and along with Ozzy, was one of the first one named.

Brian’s named this one Kramer, after the TV character.
She’s a little Krameresque I’ll admit.

Most of them have funky plummage on top, even if they aren’t named.

The chickens are a major source of entertainment for the kiddos around here.  We have been throwing scraps from the compost bucket into their yard and covering it with leaves, hoping to attract some bugs.  (And growing some nice fertilizer while we’re at it.)
In other news, the squirrels have not attempted to enter the house in a few days.  That doesn’t mean I’m leaving the back door open when I leave the house, but I at least feel comfortable leaving it open when I’m not in the kitchen.  I noticed today however, that they have fairly well stripped my tomato plants of fruit over the last 48 hours, so I guess it’s let them have their way in our house or it’s my garden.  We’re still not entirely sure about a dog, but if I’m going to have tomatoes ever again, I am clearly going to have a build a fence.  Either way, looks like my next major digging project is going to be a fence.