Friday, September 16, 2016

Our chicken girl who's not actually a girl

September!  Football - Will's league, college and NFL - has dominated our free time this month, along with hunting, piano and ballet practices, work stuff, cat who needs more adventure and try to venture outside every chance she gets, chickens who prefer the spacious backyard to their well-designed and tidy coop and two dogs who show more enthusiasm for jogging at 6:00 a.m. than I show for doing anything at anytime, AND a den remodel.  As usual, the Pauley house is one big ball of craziness right now.  But to pile on to that craziness, apparently we own a rooster.  

Let's start at the beginning.  About a month into chicken ownership, we wondered a little bit if our Rhode Island Red was not a Rey but more likely a Ray.  Apparently chicken gender identification is more of an art than a science and while the guy we bought our chickens from boasts a 95% success rate, that's still not 100%.  So we watched little Rey and frequently googled "rhode island reds" and convinced ourselves that yes, the hens look like the roosters, yes their spurs are on the bigger side and yep, they have those pointy feathers in the back that look rather rooster-y.  Reina overheard us discussing Rey/Ray's gender one day and immediately freaked out that we'd have to find Rey a new home if in fact she was a he.   I told her that we'd have to wait and see but that we were pretty sure we had a hen. Until a few weeks ago.  

(Am I really writing a whole blog post about chicken gender?  Apparently I am!)  I noticed last week that Rey had grown a bit taller than the other 3.  Glenn commented on her spur size again. Will came in the house one afternoon and mentioned that Rey was being silly and biting the other chickens on the back of the necks, isn't that weird?  Now, I should point that I'm not technically a farm girl but I did grow up around enough animals to recognize amorous chicken behavior when it's described to me by a 9-yr old.  I mentioned to Glenn that night that we shouldn't make any decisions until we hear a cock-a-doodle-do. 

Fast forward to a few mornings ago.  Glenn's hunting, the kids are getting on their bikes to head to school, I'm walking out the door for work and I hear a loud chicken noise that sounds like a very amateurish 'something something doodle-do.'  I pause and listen and uh-oh, there it is again.  I head to work in a slightly unreasonably sad mood (it's just a chicken! But she's a friendly chicken!) and think about what to do next.  Glenn happens to get cell reception and he calls me later in the day and after I update him on relevant kid behavior, I mention the rooster noises.  We agree that I should contact the guy we bought the chickens from.  I text that guy later and tell him my concerns.  He says to send him a picture of Rey when I get home.  Which I do and get an immediate reply of "Oh no, that's a cockerel."  

So there you have it.  Our girl is a guy.

Yeah, I don't know how we didn't know either.  Hey big fella.
So that brings me to last night.  After a few back and forths with the chicken guy, he agrees to take Ray back.  We can't have roosters in the city limits and frankly we don't need one anyway.  We just want eggs, not a harem.  The chicken guy tells me that there's a chance Ray will become a back-up rooster and live out his life doing you know what.  That's how I shall think of him.  But I'm still left with the job of breaking the news to Will and Reina.  I chose the car ride on the way home from Chick Fil-A (oh the irony) after football practice.  Will was pragmatic.  I think his exact words were something along the lines of "well it is just a chicken, not a dog or cat."  Reina took a different approach.  Bless her chicken-loving heart, she was the opposite of pragmatic.  Lots of tears and heart wrenching sobs. Just like with her goldfish, she immersed herself in the stages of grief, moving between anger (why didn't you make sure she was a girl?!) and bargaining (Let's just move to the country.  And surprisingly, "let's break the law!")  She calmed down a little when I pointed out that Ray was moving back to where he was born and gets to hang out with his parents and his brothers and sisters.  I can't say she's at acceptance yet but she's getting there.  

Ray is with us until Sunday.  When I took some grapes out to everybody tonight, he ate the grape out of my hand and then pecked my arm pretty hard a few times looking for more.  Maybe he's just trying to make it easier for me to send him back.  Maybe it'll help her grieving process if I send her out with the grapes next time?    

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The rest of the summer

Before I get to highlights from the rest of our summer, I have to document a few interesting conversation topics that came up this weekend.  And I thought toddlers had great conversation topics.  
1.  From Will:  Do we know anyone who was the victim of a pyramid scheme?  Follow-up:  Who's the most famous person who was the victim of a pyramid scheme?  (For posterity's sake, my answers were no and I don't know, google it.  I still need to follow-up on how he learned about pyramid schemes and/or what he thinks pyramid schemes are.) 

2.  From Reina (less of a question- more of a statement).  After volunteering to help me try on  a bunch of new shirts and without a hint of snarkiness or malice, "I'm going to help you look ATTRACTIVE!"  

3.  From Will:  Who's the Pope?  (Asked during church, naturally.)  

So let's talk about the rest of the summer.  We didn't get to do much actual camping but we did have a great day up in the Snowies during the long holiday weekend in July. 

Snow!  In July!  Glenn and the kiddos caught a fish in this lake while I hiked by myself for a few glorious minutes and napped in the truck.  It was a lovely day.  

Will and his fish.  Trigger and little sister were a little jealous.  

Tootsie and Reina and snacktime.
Earlier that weekend, I took a Friday off  of work and we spent a day at the zoo with cousins and friends.  It was a great day to be at the zoo, nice temperatures but overcast skies so it didn't get too hot.
Reluctant sibling posed picture.  

Toddler cousin looking at bears.  I think this is when I asked her "what's the bear doing?" and her reply was "I don't know" said in the tone of 'Lady, I'm not a wildlife biologist how would I know what the bear's doing?' 

Refraining from comment.  
Reina spent part of one morning at my office while we waited for the Frontier Day's parade to start.  She kept herself busy coloring and drawing pictures.  When I finally looked up, I discovered she had redesigned my business card. I think the State Seal should be a cat face. 

Will participated in 4-H shooting sports since February.  In early June, they had their annual county shoot where the kids compete for the chance to go to the state meet.  Since this was Will's first year, we didn't pay a lot of attention to the competitive side of shooting sports.  Glenn was happy for Will to learn more of the safety skills and techniques.  We signed up for county shoot and spent part of a Saturday morning watching Will participate.  Turns out he's a pretty good little marksman and he earned second place in his age group for air rifle.  Baseball interfered with the schedule for the state competition but maybe next year?

Red ribbon!  
Last weekend, we wrapped up the summer with a trip to see the Rockies play the Cubs in Denver.  Pop-pop, the Cubs fan this season, came with us.  It was Wyoming night at Coors Field so we all received cool UW colored Rockies hats.  The brim is too curved for Will's tastes but he agreed to wear it for one night.  Unfortunately, the game didn't go well for the Rockies and Will's competitiveness necessitated a walk around the concourse when the game got particularly bad.  He simmered down when we found a kid's booth where he could pitch to a fake catcher and have his pitches tracked on the radar gun.  In spite of the score, we had a fun evening at the ballpark and ironically, the Rockies beat up on the Cubs the next day.  Will and I watched it on tv and he begged for a return trip to Coors Field before the season ends.  We'll see.  
Take me out to the ballgame.... 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

First Day of School

Today was the first day of school.  Fourth grade and second grade, how on Earth did that happen?  As I wrote on Facebook today, along with another smiling picture of these two, "the days are long but the years are short."  I think that sentiment originally applied to babyhood but I'm finding it so appropriate lately.  The summer raced by and I can't believe that school is back in session. I haven't even written down all of our summer adventures.  But on the flip side, the 'witching hour' post-dinner of getting everyone cleaned up, books read to, bathed, tucked in four different times, where's the cat, what about that one really important toy and what happens when there's a man on first and the pitcher blah blah blah.  That hour or two sometimes feels like the longest part of my day.  

But here we are.  Fourth grade and second grade and firmly entrenched in big kid land.  Much thought was put into these two outfits.  Reina had her's planned for a while, down to the socks with foxes on them and a special necklace to borrow from me.  Will waffled between a sports shirt (naturally) or a tshirt printed to look like a tuxedo.  He ultimately chose the sports ensemble and is apparently saving the tuxedo shirt for a fancy occasion.  

Will asked that we take pictures at home this time around instead of at school. I don't think I've ever done that actually and while I was tempted this time, just because of that request, we stuck with our front steps.  It's tradition!  Didn't we have Coco in last year's?  

No Coco, but lots of ham.  
As per tradition, I picked up everybody after school to get the full report of the first day's activities.  Will was succinct.  Everything was fine, his friends are fine, the teacher is fine, nothing too exciting happened on the first day.  I forgot erasers in his school supplies.  Reina had a few more details to fill in.  She's delighted with her teacher.  They played some getting-to-know-you games.  There are two new kids in her class and someone else moved away.  She has some friends from last year in her class but the other ones are in the other class and that's sad.  She's wearing the shirt with the puppy on it tomorrow or perhaps the kitten and purple pants.

So on to day 2 and a new school year. I can't wait to see what this one brings but I wouldn't mind if it slowed down just a little bit.

Monday, August 15, 2016

The scene:  Almost dinnertime last night at the Pauley household.  
The characters:  Coco, Tootsie, Trigger and a bunch of humans who weren't feeding the pets fast enough.  
The location:  Tootsie's dog dish.  

Coco says, "If Coco doesn't have dinner, no one gets to have dinner.  

Tootsie says, "Don't eat the cat, don't eat the cat, don't eat the cat."  

Friday, August 12, 2016

It's August?!

Yes, it's totally August and back to school is just around the corner for the Pauley kids.  How that happened?  I really have no idea.  The kids and I just got back from a weekend trip in Minnesota for my cousin's wedding and Will just had his first football practice.  August is off to a busy start!

Here are some highlights from our weekend in Minnesota.
Look who's wearing a tie!  A few weeks before the trip, Will told me he wanted to wear a suit to the wedding.  Not ready to purchase a suit for someone who has grown out of stuff I bought in April, I told him that he could get a nice dress shirt and new tie because there's a slight chance that will still fit this winter.  We went to the department store and while some of us were distracted by Under Armour sweatshirts, we did successfully find a shirt that he would agree to wear.  My aunt's fiancee had to help with the tie part while we were waiting for the wedding to start so I get no credit for that lovely Windsor knot.   

Mom's weird attempt to be artistic.  I was also trying to get her to smile.  

Will and the groom's sons killing time before the wedding starts.  Electronics have a way of bringing a couple of introverted kids together.  Will liked their suits.  
The bulldog ring bearer almost stole the show.  He was wearing a custom tux and a jaunty top hat that he'd already discarded by the time he turned the corner to head to the altar.  Every wedding needs a bulldog.  

Brother and sister dancing at the reception.  This literally lasted for less than 5 seconds and it only lasted that long because I said they'd get cake if they danced together.  Reina was more game, naturally but Will would have none of it. 

Reina and my cousin Katie.  Cute girls!  

Reina running down the battery in my phone.  

Once my phone was dead, Reina had the camera to keep her busy.  CHEESE!  
The day before the wedding, we had a bbq at my cousin's house.  My cousin has two girls who are in jr high and high school and they live in a tree-lined street in a gorgeous part of the city.  None of that is really relevant to my next story, except for the part about the girls growing up.  My cousin pulls me aside during the bbq and says that she'd like to give something to Reina but she wanted to check with me first.  Her girls have outgrown their vast American Girl doll collection and my cousin wanted to know if Reina would like to take them home.  We get the catalog at home and Reina's been mildly interested but had never asked for one herself.  I told my cousin to show Reina the stuff and we could see what she wanted to do.  Two overstuffed suitcases later (thanks to Grandma for bringing home an iron doll bed) and here you go.
Meet Emily and Cecilia.  They have outfits and shoes and a newly acquired pet pug and they are adjusting to life in Wyoming.  

My aunt's table on her patio. I love that little dog planter and the birds.  
Hydrangeas!  Show-offs!  My sole hydrangea at home is still growing and I finally have a few budding flowers.  Nothing like these gorgeous blooms.  Maybe someday!  

We had a really nice visit to Minnesota.  After the wedding festivities, we stayed another day to see family and shop at the outlet malls.  Reina hit the jackpot for school clothes and my suitcase weighed 46.5 pounds on the way home as a result.  Will found new shoes, a backpack and football cleats.  He still needs some school clothes and that's part of the plan for this weekend.  As the summer winds down, I think our trip was the perfect cap to the summer of 2016.  I'm so glad my monsters are such good travelers.  They understand how the airport works but they are still young enough to enjoy novelties like hotel elevators and little snack packs that you can buy for $8 on the airplane.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Baseball Summer of 2016

Just hanging out on third waiting for a hit home.  
Will's baseball season wrapped up last weekend and I regret not writing about it as the season went along.  This was his first year playing in AAA and he had a few new changes to learn compared to last year's AA season.  The biggest change was no more pitching machine.  This was the first year of kid's pitching.  So lots of walks, strikeouts as the season progressed and a bunch of hit by pitches.  It was definitely exciting.  Players in AAA can also steal one base per play, except no stealing home.  Will was good at listening to his base coach and scampering to the next base on a wild pitch or even just a strike.  He got a little speedy over the winter and it was fun to see him zipping along the base path.  

More hanging out.  It was easiest for me to get pictures of him on third plus I was also pretty invested in the games (irrationally so?) and too nervous/loudly cheering/being irritated with the other team's parents to take many pictures.  Yes, I know it's a game.   
Will played on the Indians again this year and he had a great coaching staff, including his dad who managed the dugout.  Will played just about every position except first base and pitching.  He was pretty excited to play catcher and he improved a lot as the season went one.  I can't say I was crazy seeing him behind the plate but luckily catchers have tons of padding and once he even caught the ball before it could whack the umpire in the face so there's that....  

Will's hitting improved as the season went on, too.  He had a pretty good eye for judging pitches and he'd get on base with a walk quite a bit.  He got hit by the pitch a few times.  In one particularly close game, he was up to bat and the pitch came right at him but he ducked.  I found myself stifling back a yell along the lines of "just get hit by the pitch!  It'll be okay!"  Yes, in hindsight I felt weird about instructing my beautiful 9-yr old to go ahead and get hit by a ball coming in pretty fast but in relaying that story to a co-worker who's son plays high school baseball, she told me that those coaches tell the kids to "wear it" meaning 'get hit by the pitch.'  I told Will that if he heard mom say "wear it" he'd know what to do.  Yes, I also feel weird typing that here but baseball is a complicated game and sometimes you just have to get on base.  Or something like that.
"Wear it" Will!  But only if it's not coming at your face or brain.  
The baseball season ended last Saturday when the Indians lost in the semi-final round of the tournament.  They finished with a record right around .500 but they had some great games and it was a nice group of kids.  Football season is right around the corner but Will is still in the front yard with his mitt, throwing a tennis ball up against the house.  We sure do like our baseball.  And our baseball player.
Baseball sister who wants to try her hand at softball next summer.  Stay tuned!  

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Dolly, Lolly, Ren and Rey

Coco is super interested in the chickens.  Also interested in holding them in her mouth.  
So it's high time I wrote about the girls.  The chicken girls.  Dolly, Lolly, Ren and Rey.   Yes, I know it seems crazy to add more critters to this already hectic life but some days they are the easiest thing to take care of and sometime soon we'll have fresh eggs in the fridge.  In the meantime, we have little bug eaters and weed destroyers and poultry entertainers.  
On one of their first excursions in the backyard.  They were so little!  

Reina has been a great help with the chickens.  They might not appreciate her enthusiasm but she helps take good care of them. 
We kept the chickens in the basement for about 6 weeks while we waited for the weather to warm up and for Glenn to build the chicken coop.  It was tough keeping the dogs and cat out of the chicken room and we are all pretty happy that they are finally outside. Well, except for Coco.

A few weekends ago, while trying to get some chores done, I gave Reina the camera to take pictures of the chicken girls and she did a great job!  Here are some poultry pics from the perspective of a 7-yr old.
Meet Ren.  She's a Barred Rock.  She's still the smallest chicken and the friendliest.  We thought she'd be the leader of the pack but that title goes to the Rhode Island Red named Rey.  I don't see her picture in this post but she's pretty.  And bossy.  

This is Dolly an Orpington.  Dolly was a few weeks older than the rest of the gang when we got them and she's pretty shy still.  She's also not the sharpest tool in the chicken shed but that's okay.  She routinely gets panicky when she misses the entrance to the chicken coop and can't figure out why everyone else is on the other side of the wire.  There's a reason that chickens haven't taken over the planet yet.  But she's pretty!  

Ren and the rhubarb.  

Meet Lolly the Australorp.  She's a little dinosaur.  She's shy but warming up to us especially when you are holding corn on the cob.  
The Chicken Coop to end all chicken coops and the chief architect/construction manager/laborer/painter.  
We agree that our chickens are living the 1% life.  Besides being spied on by a few dogs and a very interested cat, these four are living the life in a big run and a warm coop.  We let them out in the yard when we are home and they love hanging out on or under the deck.  'm surprised at how entertaining it is to watch them just be chickens.  Ren chased another bird out of the yard one afternoon.  If one of them starts running, they all run even if there's no reason for it.  They are discovering table scraps and made quick work of a piece of watermelon today.  There's something oddly peaceful about watching them peck and scratch the ground.  While I never pictured myself eating dinner on our deck with chickens running around, I'm so glad we brought them home.  We are having fun with our chicken girls.